Columbia struggles as population of cocaine hippos increases
The population of cocaine hippos in Columbia has grown. Scientists are worried on how to control their population.
Almost after 30 years of Pablo Escobar's death, his stories and lifestyle are still talked about around the world. Numerous individuals have shared their encounters with the notorious drug lord, while others have delved into the influence he had on Colombia, including his 'cocaine hippos.'
According to the journal Nature, “the most thorough census of the animals conducted yet” in Colombia reveals the population of hippos is significantly higher than scientists had anticipated. Hippos, which are regarded as the largest invasive creatures in the world, are already posing a threat to the country's native plants and wildlife, prompting scientists to advocate for drastic population control measures.
A few years ago, researchers estimated that around 98 hippos were living along the country’s Magdalena River. But according to a new study 181–215 hippos are residing in Columbia. This study was conducted by researchers by counting the number of hippos in person, by drone, and by other methods.
"Before, one argument against dealing with the hippos was that our information was limited and our arguments theoretical. But we have put that argument to bed now. This study shows that this is a real issue and that the state must act urgently," said ecologist Rafael Moreno to Nature who participated in the study while at the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute in Bogotá.
Pablo Escobar bought three females and one male hippo illegally from Africa, who are now the ancestors of all Colombia's cocaine hippos. The hippos escaped from his land after his death in 1993 and made their home in the Magdalena River. Since then they have reproduced quickly to establish the greatest population of animals outside of Africa.