The presence of these mammals, brought to the country by the late drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, causes negative impacts on the environment.
Four hippos walking in the dark and the rain were captured in a video that went viral as they moved near the road that connects the Colombian capital, Bogota, with the country’s second city, Medellin.
According to various media reports, these mammals were found in the township of Doradal, belonging to the Antioquia municipality of Puerto Triunfo. In the clip, they can be seen crossing the Medellin-Bogota highway in a herd and heading towards a wooded area.
This is not the first time that these animals of African origin have been seen in the area, which were brought to Colombia by the late drug trafficker Pablo Escobar. Last April, the death by being run over by a hippopotamus was reported in the aforementioned municipality, near the Hacienda Napoles Theme Park, which operates on the former property of the late drug lord and head of the Medellin Cartel.
Currently, according to data from the Ministry of the Environment, there are 169 hippos in the country.
What happens to the hippos?
At the beginning of August, the Ministry of the Environment announced a plan that the Executive will implement for this species and that consists of “ecosystem management, population control of the species and a management plan with an ethical component and high protocols.”
In March 2022, that ministry declared these mammals as a invasive alien species due to the negative impact on the local ecosystem and native species. Hippo feces change the composition of rivers and could impact the habitat of manatees, otters, and capybaras or capybaras.
So far there is a request for transfer of 85 pachyderms, of which 60 would go to India, 15 to the Philippines and 10 to Mexico. The process has been slow because, as it is the first time that this type of animal has been exported, rigorous controls are needed.
In addition, it is expected that some 40 specimens per year will be sterilized, in a process that is planned to begin in the next six months.
The other open possibility is euthanasia, according to the Environment Minister, Susana Muhamad. This determination would be reached if the other measures —including confinement— are exhausted. The process would be carried out “in a humane manner and taking into account very strict protocols,” she assured.
- In 1981 Pablo Escobar illegally took three males and one female of this species to his Napoles farm. After his murder in 1993, the government took control of the property and failed to properly manage the animals, which continued to breed uncontrollably.
- Due to the lack of natural predators and the favorable climate, scientists have warned that the number of these animals could reach 1,500 in 2040, which would have an irreversible environmental impact.