PABLO Escobar’s so-called “cocaine hippos” are out of control and must be culled, scientists have said.
Experts fear the hippos, which breed in Colombia‘s Magdalena river basin, could ruin the country’s natural habitat.
Scientists have said the hippos may need to be culledCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
Pablo Escobar had hippos in his zoo in ColombiaCredit: Getty – Contributor
The drugs lord, who was shot dead at the age of 43 in 1993, left behind four hippos he brought to his private zoo in Colombia.
After Escobar’s death, most animals at the zoo were relocated, but it is believed the four hippos escaped.
Since then, the number of hippos has been growing and it is estimated there are now between 80 and 100 descendants of the Escobar’s former pets.
Scientists believe the hippos pose a threat to the natural wildlife since their urine and faeces are toxic and they carry a range of dangerous bacteria, The Telegraph reports.
If the situation is not brought under control, this could affect other animal species as well as humans, according to some experts.
David Echeverri Lopez, a government environmentalist, said: “These hippos have become part of the local identity. But time is running out.”
Experts estimate the hippos could increase to 1,500 by 2024.
Some solutions – such as relocating or castrating the animals so they stop reproducing – have been taken into consideration, but some scientists think it would not be enough to solve the problem.
The number of hippos in the area has been on the riseCredit: AFP – Getty
Ecologist Nataly Castelblanco-Martínez believes the only solution to protect the environment is to put the hippos down.
She said: “Nobody likes the idea of shooting a hippo, but we have to accept that no other strategy is going to work.”
Last year, some researchers found the hippos brought diversity to the ecosystem.
A team of scientists, including experts from the University of Sussex, said they are a replacement for giant llamas and a mammal called a notoungulate – which are both extinct.
Some experts have called for the hippos to be put downCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Researcher Dr John Rowan said: “While hippos don’t perfectly replace any one extinct species, they restore parts of important ecologies across several species.”
Born in 1949 in Antioquia, Colombia, Pablo Escobar became the leader of the powerful Medellin drugs cartel.
His Medellin drugs cartel was accused of being behind up to 80 per cent of all the cocaine shipped to the US.
Escobar was killed on a Medellin roof-top during a shoot-out as he was trying to flee from the police on December 2, 1993.
At the height of his power, he was said to be the seventh richest man in the world.
Dubbed the “King of Cocaine”, Escobar stopped at nothing to protect his drug trafficking business and was behind the murders of thousands of people.
Escobar was dubbed the ‘King of Cocaine’Credit: Getty – Contributor