Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar was worth nearly 25 billion dollars thanks to his successful cocaine empire in the 1980s. Pablo was known for two things, a zero-tolerance for thieves (one waiter at one of his parties found this out the hard way), and a penchant for buying luxuries gifts to fill his estate with.
Sometimes these were illegal animals, such as the four hippos. Located 62 miles east of Medellín, Colombia sits the Hacienda Nápoles, which is Spanish for “Naples Estate”.
Escobar purchased four hippos from New Orleans and kept them in his Naples Estate. Following Escobar’s death in 1993, the hippos were left alone on the estate. By 2016 the four had become sixteen hippos.
Since it was close by, the Magdalena River became a new home for Escobar’s “Cocaine Hippos”.
Their numbers have increased every year. Today there are an estimated 90-120 hippos in the group started by the Cocaine Hippos. The hippos on the Naples Estate are a tourist attraction, but one fact remains: they have escaped the estate.
Pablo’s Cocaine Hippos Wreak Havoc
The Cocaine Hippos at this point are significantly impacting the ecosystem they are now living in. Their feces and urine are helping to raise bacteria levels which in turn create an algae bloom.
These effects are threatening the endangered turtle species, the Dahl’s toad-headed turtle and Magdalena River turtle.
The Hippopotamus is a herbivore, semi-aquatic mammal native to sub-Saharan Africa. They head inland at dusk to feed on up to 150 pounds of grass in a single evening.
However, in case you didn’t know this, the hippo is extremely aggressive and territorial. It has been known to attack and kill humans.
In a confrontation, the most you could do is struggle to find your hand placement on a hairless blubbery body as the beast swings its mouth around to engulf your entire head.
Where does the Colombian government currently stand on the plan for culling Escobar’s hippos? They are working on it, but animal rights groups are upset that the culling is inhumane.
The alternative is costly, it costs a lot of money to track, capture, and relocate hippos in the wild.
In 2009 a small group of Escobar’s hippos attacked humans. The humans killed one of the adult hippos in return.
An adult male hippo weighs on average 3,300 pounds, but can still gallop at 19 mph. Consider that a human in perfect condition can achieve 28 mph while sprinting.
Colombian ecologists are worried that without a complete culling of the wild hippos they could continue to have negative effects on the Magdalena River Basin and eventually spread throughout Latin American or even go North.
By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74486420
By XalD – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7749727
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