Animals

How Pablo Escobar’s ‘cocaine hippos’ became a biodiversity nightmare | News

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Legends and legends still surround Colombia’s most famous drug lord Pablo Escobar 26 years after his death. But his legacy has had an unexpectedly disastrous effect on some of the country’s fragile ecosystems. Free roaming a herd of more than 80 hippos, an animal breed that was smuggled into Colombia from Africa in the 1980s and now thrives in the wild.

Reporter Joe Barkin Daniels Tells Michael Safi that when Escobar was shot dead by police on the roof of a house in his hometown of Medellin, his property and the animals on it were seized by the authorities. While most were shipped to zoos, transporting his four mares proved insurmountable and they were left to roam the Andes.

Now out of control hippos have become a serious problem and the authorities have decided to solve it is a comprehensive sterilization programme.

Gina Paula Serna He tells Michael that, after she studied to become a biologist and veterinarian, she never expected that she would one day be tasked with castrating an invasive herd of hippos that once belonged to Escobar. She says that while they represented an environmental problem, the Colombian people took hippos at heart and further complicated the country’s relationship with Escobar’s legacy.

Colombian hippopotamus.  Photo: Juancho Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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