Posted on 26/10/2019

#Nature #Colombia

This Colombian village has some unlikely guests...

Some people have cats, some have dogs, others, they prefer reptiles. Pablo Escobar, he was a great admirer of exotic animals.

Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar kept a number of different species on his 7400-acre property in Magdalena Media, northwest Columbia, the most impressive of which were four African hippos!

At the time of his death in 1993, the part of Hacienda Napoles where Escobar kept his zoo had been abandoned. Most of the animals were relocated by the government but it appears they forgot about the hippos...


Pheeraphan Chankhao/123RF

Even after reopening part of the mansion's zoo, two hippos managed to escape in 2006 and 2007. Now, what started out as four original hippos, has since turned into an estimated 50 beasts roaming the Magdalena River area!

This has had unexpected consequences as the hippos are multiplying. They're actually considered invasive species, threatening local wildlife and ecosystems. And their numbers don't seem to be decreasing. What's more, in Colombia, the hippos can live in relative paradise with a constant supply of food and water and without the danger of their native predators or droughts.


Jatesada Natayo/123RF

Local biologists are at a loss of what to do about these unruly village guests. As the hippos are looked upon fondly by many as 'village pets', the idea of euthanising or relocating them is extremely unpopular, even for the protection of local ecosystems. The only other option is sterilisation to prevent the pitter-patter of any more not-so-tiny baby hippo feet, but this proves difficult given the fact hippos are actually quite aggressive and territorial creatures and the cost of such procedures would be very high.

Instead, it appears that these 430-stone creatures will continue to be a quite unusual, somewhat endearing and rather dangerous part of Escobar's legacy.