Colombia on Wednesday reported that progress was being made in relocating 70 hippos to sanctuaries abroad. However, dealing with this unusual legacy of the late drug lord Pablo Escobar, which has caused much havoc, comes with a hefty price tag of more than ₹28 crore.
Pablo Escobar had brought hippos to Colombia in late 1980s
Escobar had brought a small number of African hippos to Colombia in the late 1980s, and after his death in 1993, the animals were left to roam freely in a hot, marshy area of Antioquia department. Despite efforts by environmental authorities, the hippo population has swelled to 150, making it difficult to control their numbers.
60 hippos to come to India
In the coming months, authorities plan to capture and relocate nearly half of the hippos, with 10 going to the Ostok Sanctuary in northern Mexico, and 60 to an unnamed facility in India. Ernesto Zazueta, the owner of the Ostok Sanctuary, estimated that the operation would cost around $3.5 million. To lure the hippos into pens, where they will be confined before transfer, authorities plan to use bait.
Colombia had conducted sterilization program
In the past, Colombia attempted a sterilization program to control the hippo population, but it was unsuccessful. The hippos were declared an invasive species by the environment ministry last year, paving the way for an eventual cull. Nevertheless, the relocation plan is viewed as a life-saving measure. Governor Anibel Gaviria and Zazueta, both from the Colombian region where the hippos reside, are spearheading the operation.
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