Pablo Escobar ‘cocaine hippos’ wreaking havoc – US rules animals are legally PEOPLE | World | News

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Colombian authorities considered both culling and neutering the animals in an effort to stop their numbers from increasing. However, the United States stepped in and reported that a US court is recognizing the animals as “persons of concern” after a decision believed to be the first of its kind in the United States.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, which has sought to designate people interested in “hippo cocaine,” called the ruling by a US District Court judge for the Southern District of Ohio an “important milestone” in its larger effort to make US law a system that recognizes “enforceable rights” for animals.

Legal analysts say the US court order has no direct effect in Colombia. It remains to be seen what impact the ruling may have on a lawsuit there that seeks to protect the welfare of the hippos.

Ariel Flint, a staff attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said the federal court order was “narrow” in that it was intended to allow two US wildlife experts to be fired to support legal proceedings in Columbia.

But their testimony is “crucial in ensuring that hippos are humanely sterilized, and in demonstrating that sterilization is an effective option for any hippos who may be euthanized,” they wrote in an email to The Washington Post.

Mr. Escobar smuggled several hippos to his farm in the 1980s.

Their wild descendants now roam the wetlands north of Bogota, where they are the largest invasive species on the planet.

After his death in 1993, hippos were left to their own devices.

They lived along the Magdalena River and their current population swelled to 120.

And the situation could get worse.

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The introduction of such an important species into an already balanced ecosystem appears to result in the destruction of local biodiversity.

It appears that animals can cause higher amounts of toxic algae, and their droppings kill fish species as well.

They also pose a threat to humans: in Africa, hippos kill up to 500 people annually.

Although there has been no recorded death so far at the hands of hippos in Colombia, as the numbers increase, the risk of their encounter with humans increases.

The case for granting such a status is not the first of its kind.

In 2018, a Colombian court granted legal personality status to a portion of the Amazon rainforest in a landmark decision urging the government to end the region’s deforestation crisis.

For the hippopotamus in Colombia, the problem appears to be long-term in nature as the animals can easily live to the age of 50 years.

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