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[Animal] The Government of Colombia studies a report that proposes to hunt Escobar's hippos


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Una imagen de archivo de un hipopótamo del parque temático Hacienda Nápoles.


The report on hippos in Colombia, which biologists and other experts have been demanding to be made public for months, has put the government against the wall. The Executive of Gustavo Petro has in his hands an investigation that clearly poses the presence of this species as a problem and tells how it should be dealt with: controlled hunting appears as a necessary option. The Ministry of the Environment has been excessively prudent when it comes to showing its position on what should be done with these animals, but it has already assured that they are studying the report, led by researchers from the National University of Colombia and the Alexander Von Humboldt Institute. , and that will be the basis of a plan that they are about to present. “Based on the results [of the report], we are defining the general policy and the budget for this four-year period. We hope to announce decisions in the next month," Minister Susana Muhamad said on her social networks in response to the claim of those who demanded that she publish the study.

The "control hunt" appears in the investigation that the Government analyzes as one of the proposals to treat, control and eradicate a po[CENSORED]tion of hippos that is getting bigger and bigger - there are 169 registered - and that it is no longer an exclusive topic from the Hacienda Nápoles, where they arrived by order of Pablo Escobar in the eighties. Their presence today extends throughout the Magdalena River basin and is dangerous for other animals, such as manatees and capybaras, as well as being a risk for humans. You don't have to look very far in the news to see it: hours before this report came out, a hippopotamus crossed a road in Puerto Triunfo, in Antioquia, at night and caused an accident. The animal died and the occupants of the vehicle suffered injuries. Something similar had already happened in November with a motorcyclist who was driving at night in that area and who also collided with one of these animals. That time, the driver suffered a fracture in one of his arms.

The presence of hippos has been a sensitive topic of conversation in the country since 2009, when German hunters in the company of the Colombian Army and with the permission of the Government shot Pepe dead, as the press made one of the four hippos famous. from Escobar. The photograph of the group of armed men over the animal's corpse generated widespread rejection and a judge prohibited its hunting. Petro, whose government has the support of animal rights, will have to make a decision that could distance him from that sector that supported him. Animalists oppose hunting and propose sterilization instead.

Of the five proposals proposed by the research, three of them, control hunting, translocation and confinement, are aimed at generating direct impacts on the hippo po[CENSORED]tion, while the remaining two: early warnings and social intervention are aimed at prevent and mitigate direct impacts on the human po[CENSORED]tion and their livelihoods. You have to do everything to make it work, experts say. Regarding control hunting, the research mentions the euthanasia of the hippopotamus by means of physical methods, with shots or concussion, or chemicals, through the injection of medicines. The death of the animal has been the controversial subject of the debate that biologists and animalists have held for years. The report raises several arguments to go further in this discussion.

The investigation, which includes previous studies on the presence of hippos in Colombia, says that these animals, due to their territorial nature, are a risk to the ecosystems through which they circulate, to some wild species and to all humans who have them as neighbors. . The risk is not only physical, the economy of the areas where they have spread is also threatened. The riverside inhabitants of the municipality of Puerto Triunfo, for example, have had to abandon their activities of fishing and ballasting materials from the river, on which their economy depends, for fear of finding a hippopotamus in the water. “This condition has put the community in competition for the aquatic ecosystem with the hippopotamus, increasing the potential risk of encounters in the tributary and reducing their opportunities to access extraction and fishing sites. It is even reported that people have had to travel to more remote but safe places, to carry out the activity of their livelihood, ”says the report.




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