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Colombia: transfer of invasive hippos will cost 3.5 million dollars


The Colombian authorities are preparing to transfer to reserves in India and Mexico, by next July and for an amount of 3.5...

The Colombian authorities are preparing to transfer to reserves in India and Mexico, by next July and for the amount of 3.5 million dollars, 70 invasive hippos, an unusual legacy of the drug baron Pablo Escobar in the region of Medellin.

Since the most notorious of the narcos (killed by the police in 1993) brought several specimens of these animals to his hacienda in the department of Antioquia, in the northwest of the country, in the late 1980s, the herd has is reproduced without control in a tributary of the Magdalena River, now numbering nearly 150 individuals.

"The whole operation is expected to cost around $3.5 million

," Ernesto Zazueta, owner of the Ostok sanctuary in northern Mexico, where ten of the huge mammals will be housed, told reporters on Wednesday.

The aim is to

"save the lives"

of these animals native to Africa, which were declared an invasive species by Colombia's environment ministry last year, leaving open the possibility of them being culled.

Read alsoHippopotamuses in Colombia… The cumbersome legacy of Pablo Escobar

According to Aníbal Gaviria, Governor of Antioquia, all that is missing is a kind of

"passport for the hippos, which will be issued by the Ministry of the Environment"

after authorization of the operation by Cites (Convention on International Trade species of wild fauna and flora threatened with extinction).

"The next step is to rent the planes (and) build the cages (...) We will start with India, then Mexico"

, he added.

There are plans to lure the massive animals with bait into enclosures where they will be confined before being placed in special crates to be airlifted to their new sanctuaries.

Ten will be transferred to Mexico, and about sixty to India, in a nature reserve whose name has not been disclosed.

After Escobar's death, the hippos were left to fend for themselves and populated the region of Magdalena Medio, a hot savannah criss-crossed by rivers, swamps and marshes.

The government unsuccessfully attempted a sterilization program to control the population.

Experts and the area's environmental authority (Cornare) then agreed that hunting was

"a necessary option"

, given the threat they pose to local people and wildlife.

"Here we seek to save the lives of the hippos, but also to protect the lives of the inhabitants of Magdalena Medio (...) it is a risk for the tranquility and the lives of people", explained the office of

the governor.

The local environmental authority (Cornare) recorded two assaults on residents in 2021.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-03-30

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