Animals

Why Escobar Hippos are taking over Columbia?

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Escobar had a great criminal mind as his every step dedicated him millions of dollars. But we doubt that even he had guessed something that started as a small whip for the billionaire drug lord.

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Escobar’s every decision was made to last him years ahead. Hence, it looks like his hippo fascination carried his urge to go wide and wild to a time beyond anyone could have ever thought.

Invasive species tend to take over from time to time. Most people think moths, wasps, and other very uncontrollable species as invasive breeds. Still, the popularly sweet and cute invasive Columbian hippos generally do not make it to the list, according to people. But authorities have another story to tell.

The drug lord zoo

Pablo Escobar had the money and resources to do as he will, and that is why he thought to build a mansion, complete with an airport, and a zoo featuring some very exotic animals. The mansion was then spattered with zebras, giraffes, elephants, ostriches, ponies, and of course, hippopotamuses. While even a state-funded zoo might feel burdened with these many exotic animals loitering around, Escobar did not even bat an eyelid at the resources that this might have needed. The drug lord made about $60 million on a good cocaine sale day, so obviously, he had the privilege to do so.

But everything went haywire as the drug lord got killed in 1993, and his estate, including Escobar’s hippo herd, was left in government custody.

Rouge hippos taking over the place

The government turned the estate to a themed zoo. But as mentioned previously, the exotic Escobar’s hippo herd could have been kept only with the vast fortune regularly turning in. But the government could not have spent such high revenue on a zoo alone. So the animals were shifted to other zoos. But the hippos poised a problem. 

Originally, Escobar’s hippo whims were limited to a single male and three female hippos, legally imported into the estate. Still, with time this small little team turned into a vast population. At present, the exotic animals are lounging around four lakes of Columbia and are also moving to rivers extensively. People have reported hippo sightings in the area as much as 155 miles away from their initial mansion lifestyle.

The ecosystem impact

Every animal brought into an ecosystem originally not their own tends to change it for better or worse, mostly being worse. The same can be said for this Escobar’s hippo herd. Extensive research took place in the area and the water bodies that these animals infest presently. The studies ranged from oxygen levels to impact on the previously present organisms like crustaceans, insects, etc.

These hippo herds bring in organic matter into the lakes from their time spent in the nearby lands at night feeding and breeding. With this organic matter lurking around, more activities take place in water leading to excessive algae blooms, eutrophication, and other problems. Hence, the ecosystem of the waters before infestation suffers from a lack of sunlight due to eutrophication.

The most significant problem is that the hippos are growing at an alarming rate, which increased manifold due to the wet Colombian climate and increased female fertility. The Columbian hippos start breeding at age three while the African counterparts begin at seven.

Public backlash

Controlling this wildly growing population is not very easy because people tend to think of these exotic animals as harmless and cute creatures. They cannot be migrated back to Africa because they pose a threat of inducing hereditary diseases into the continent. When the control measures like castrating are implemented, people protest without understanding the impending doom this population poses. The people are emotionally attached to the Columbian hippos, and only time will tell how this raving problem will turn out to be.

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