What is the deal with "Cocaine Hippos?"

What is all the buzz in the news about "Cocaine Hippos?" Just the phrase gets your attention!

First, what are they? Well, according to Wikipedia: "In the late 1980s, Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar kept four hippos in a private menagerie at his residence in hacienda Nápoles, 100 kilometres (62 mi) east of Medellín, Colombia. They were deemed too difficult to seize and move after Escobar's death, and hence left on the untended estate. By 2007, the animals had multiplied to 16 and had taken to roaming the area for food in the nearby Magdalena River.

In 2013, the National Geographic Channel produced a documentary about them titled Cocaine Hippos. (Where the name started)

So no - the cocaine hippos are not hippos who have consumed cocaine, although they can be highly aggressive and rank high among the world’s deadliest land mammals,

Here's the problem.

In 2014, 40 hippos were reported to exist in Puerto Triunfo, Antioquia, from the original four belonging to Escobar.

In 2018 the population was estimated at 50–70.

In December 2020, the estimated population of hippos was around 90-120, with their range covering around 2,250 km2(870 sq mi) and now extending into Santander; it is expected that the population will almost certainly increase to more than 150 individuals within a decade and could reach up to more than 200 hippos, and even thousands within a few decades.

The Problem? Hippos are non-native to Columbia and most conservationists considered them problematic and invasive with the potential to change the ecosystems, feeding heavily on plants and displacing native species.

Oh, there are other problems too. For instance, one report says "The staggering amount of poop the hippos already produce is harmful. They feed on land and then excrete the waste into water, altering its chemistry, fueling the growth of bacteria and algae, and potentially sickening aquatic animals and humans alike. And then, there is the problem of aggression: Hippos kill about 500 people each year in Africa." Although no deaths have been reported from our "Cocaine Hippos" (Source: The Cut)

Ecologists are calling for a thinning of the herd while other scientists say leave them be.

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