SEVERE WX : Air Stagnation Advisory View Alerts

Colombia is putting its 'cocaine hippos' on birth control

Colombia may have finally found a solution to one of the lesser-known legacies of notorious drug trafficker Pablo Escobar: invasive hippos.

Posted: Oct 18, 2021 4:58 PM

By Stefano Pozzebon and Jack Guy, CNN

(CNN) -- Colombia may have finally found a solution to one of the lesser-known legacies of notorious drug trafficker Pablo Escobar: invasive hippos.

A handful of hippos brought to Colombia in the 1980s for Escobar's private zoo has grown to a population of 80, prompting biologists to express concern over their environmental impact and threat to human safety. In January, a study published in Biological Conservation called for the growing herd -- now ranging wild in the Antioquia department -- to be culled.

The regional government has instead tried neutering the enormous beasts, but traditional surgical sterilization is too dangerous and demanding to scale up. Only 11 of the hippos have so far been sterilized this way, according to local authorities.

On Friday, however, the regional environmental agency Cornare announced its efforts to control the hippo population had led to 24 more hippos being treated with a new method: darts laden with the contraceptive drug GonaCon.

Compared to surgery, GonaCon is "a much cheaper option," according to a Cornare statement. "However it is still complex since experts suggest giving three doses, based on studies and comparisons made in other large animals such as horses." The same drug has been tested on other wild animal populations, including wild horses in the United States, kangaroos in Australia and wild cattle in Hong Kong, it said.

Scientists must now track the efficacy of the drug by measuring hormone levels in hippo feces.

"It is the first time that we are implementing this procedure. We are going to follow up and monitor it to find out how successful it can be," said David Echeverri López, coordinator of the Cornare Forest and Biodiversity Group.

Escobar's hippopotamus collection began with only one male and three females. Upon his death, other species of exotic animals were relocated, but the hippos were left because they were too difficult to capture and transport, according to the Biological Conservation study. They soon began to multiply, spreading around the Magdalena river basin from their original home some 100 miles east of the city of Medellin.

Research has shown negative effects of hippo waste on oxygen levels in bodies of water, which can affect fish and ultimately humans. Hippos also pose a threat to agriculture and to the security of people in affected areas, according to the Biological Conservation study. In May 2020, a hippo attack left a 45-year-old man seriously injured.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 392197

Reported Deaths: 5186
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60432839
Washington42082398
Marion39986507
Clackamas32861382
Lane30179358
Jackson24956361
Deschutes23639185
Umatilla15135182
Linn14704179
Douglas13438292
Josephine10201246
Yamhill9787143
Klamath9072147
Polk8248102
Benton611138
Malheur592790
Coos5693107
Columbia433356
Jefferson420866
Lincoln363852
Union339255
Crook336356
Wasco317046
Clatsop262735
Baker220833
Tillamook217045
Hood River214537
Morrow197825
Curry192439
Harney119933
Grant108515
Lake105616
Wallowa76013
Sherman1913
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5087907

Reported Deaths: 74561
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152858627184
San Diego4074794340
Riverside3880835358
San Bernardino3748555967
Orange3346265736
Sacramento1684922447
Kern1578751804
Fresno1568972259
Santa Clara1522681929
Alameda1252361507
San Joaquin1076041834
Ventura1040841191
Contra Costa1038691046
Stanislaus915481417
Tulare861371099
San Francisco56931672
San Mateo56354629
Monterey52521626
Solano47693358
Santa Barbara47345553
Merced45086668
Sonoma43207412
Placer42204470
Imperial38516773
Kings35221362
San Luis Obispo31511360
Madera26233311
Shasta26113458
Butte25476318
Santa Cruz22268224
Yolo21590260
Marin18495249
El Dorado18325166
Sutter14577186
Napa13424105
Yuba1076389
Tehama10282130
Humboldt10183119
Nevada10029105
Mendocino857799
Lassen797656
San Benito782979
Tuolumne774691
Lake7046110
Amador578366
Siskiyou475855
Glenn457436
Calaveras442288
Del Norte376942
Colusa325921
Inyo256746
Plumas19397
Mono18924
Mariposa160718
Trinity99817
Modoc7725
Sierra2180
Alpine1080
Unassigned810
Out of CA00
Medford
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 42°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 46°
Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 42°
Grants Pass
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 42°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 22°
More developing valley fog tonight
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events