Colombia is putting its ‘cocaine hippos’ on birth control

A handful of hippos delivered to Colombia within the Eighties for Escobar’s personal zoo has grown to a inhabitants of 80, prompting biologists to precise concern over their environmental affect and menace to human security. In January, a research printed in Organic Conservation known as for the rising herd — now ranging wild within the Antioquia division — to be culled.
The regional authorities has as an alternative tried neutering the big beasts, however conventional surgical sterilization is just too harmful and demanding to scale up. Solely 11 of the hippos have up to now been sterilized this manner, in accordance with native authorities.

On Friday, nevertheless, the regional environmental company Cornare introduced its efforts to manage the hippo inhabitants had led to 24 extra hippos being handled with a brand new methodology: darts laden with the contraceptive drug GonaCon.

In comparison with surgical procedure, GonaCon is “a much cheaper option,” in accordance with a Cornare assertion. “Nevertheless it’s nonetheless advanced since specialists recommend giving three doses, based mostly on research and comparisons made in different giant animals comparable to horses.” The identical drug has been examined on different wild animal populations, together with wild horses in the US, kangaroos in Australia and wild cattle in Hong Kong, it stated.

Scientists should now observe the efficacy of the drug by measuring hormone ranges in hippo feces.

“It’s the first time that we’re implementing this process. We’re going to observe up and monitor it to learn the way profitable it may be,” stated David Echeverri López, coordinator of the Cornare Forest and Biodiversity Group.

Cornare and USDA specialists involved in the hippo pilot project.
Hippos are seen at the Hacienda Napoles theme park, once the private zoo of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar at his Napoles ranch, in the Colombian town of Doradal on September 12, 2020.

Escobar’s hippopotamus assortment started with just one male and three females. Upon his loss of life, different species of unique animals have been relocated, however the hippos have been left as a result of they have been too troublesome to seize and transport, in accordance with the Organic Conservation research. They quickly started to multiply, spreading across the Magdalena river basin from their authentic house some 100 miles east of the town of Medellin.

Analysis has proven adverse results of hippo waste on oxygen ranges in our bodies of water, which may have an effect on fish and finally people. Hippos additionally pose a menace to agriculture and to the safety of individuals in affected areas, in accordance with the Organic Conservation research. In Could 2020, a hippo assault left a 45-year-old man severely injured.

CNN’s Stefano Pozzebon reported from Bogota, and Jack Man contributed earlier reporting from London.

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