Pablo Escobar and His 'Cocaine Hippos'


Pablo Escobar was notorious for being a Colombian drug lord. He was head of the “Medellín cartel” and was even named “the world’s most powerful drug trafficker in the 1980s and early ’90s” from Tikkanen. In an attempt to run from the police when his operation and drug trafficking career were discovered, both he and his bodyguard were caught in a firefight between themselves and the Colombian National Police. Despite Escobar and his bodyguard fighting hard for escape by running on the roofs of adjoining homes in hopes to make it to a back street, they were found and shot by the National Police of Colombia.



Escobar however was a wealthy individual, with a net worth of around 30 billion dollars. As any wealthy individual on our planet, Escobar used his money for personal indulgences - one being the creation of a personal safari or zoo in the Colombian countryside. Due to Escobar’s passing, his property went to the Colombian government, including this safari. Whilst the government dealt with the animals by shipping a majority away, the four “cocaine hippos” as they are now called in the media, were left in captivity and are taken care of by Cornare, which is an environmental agency in Colombia.


The Colombian government has been actively working with conservation experts on how best to deal with the growing population of hippos that occupy the property of the deceased drug lord Pablo Escobar. Their main issue is to decrease or prevent the population from growing any further, as it has already increased from “4 to 40” from Wilcox. Hippos by nature are deemed as the species that “causes the most deaths in Africa” from Wilcox. These animals should not be kept in an unfamiliar environment, as it is very worrying for caretakers in these regions.



Another problem concerning these hippos is their spread from the Colombian countryside to the Magdalena River. There are two major issues concerning the emigration of hippos from the countryside to their immigration into the Magdalena River. The first problem is that these hippos can be extremely unsafe for the communities that live in this area as hippos are “aggressive and are considered very dangerous” posing a large threat to human life in these areas, from Bradford. The second issue is that these hippos can disrupt the ecosystems that live in and surround the Magdalena river, for example, they can interfere with the species of otters, manatee, etc. Another example is the fact that hippos have impacted farming land by consuming all the crops that grow on the fertile land, leaving the land dry and the farmers no longer able to grow their crops - due to the destruction of their land.


Many have worked hard to integrate the system of rewilding, which is the reintroduction of these hippos into their natural environment, slowly over time. This experiment has been happening for “25 years” from National Geographic. Another way in which these scientists are tackling the problem of growing populations of these animals is by castration. Castration is the process of removing the male gonad of the species, in turn removing their ability to reproduce sexually. However, many individuals have expressed the difficulty that surrounds capturing a beast as large as the hippo.



Many are looking at these hippos as a new hope for a lost species. Researchers have been looking into the diet of these herbivores, and in the published “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” it was found that these hippos are the “perfect ecological match for extinct species from the Late Pleistocene, such as modern-day wild horses known as mustangs and the extinct pre-domestic horses in North America” from The Guardian. By the reintroduction of these hippos into our ecosystems, many have found they are able to serve parts of ecosystems that now-extinct species of animals are unable to do, serving a greater purpose to our biodiversity.


Works Cited

Bradford, Alina. “Facts About Hippos.” LiveScience, Purch, 1 Nov. 2018, www.livescience.com/27339-hippos.html.


A Drug Lord and the World's Largest Invasive Animal, 26 Apr. 2018, ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/feature/a-drug-lord-and-the-worlds-largest-invasive-animal.


“Pablo Escobar's 'Cocaine Hippos' Show How Invasive Species Can Restore a Lost World.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 24 Mar. 2020, www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/24/pablo-escobars-cocaine-hippos-show-how-invasive-species-can-restore-a-lost-world-aoe.


Images Used

Howard, Brian Clark. “Pablo Escobar's Escaped Hippos Are Thriving in Colombia.” National Geographic, 10 May 2016, www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2016/05/160510-pablo-escobar-hippos-colombia/.


“Pablo Escobar.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Oct. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pablo_Escobar.


Photograph by Luis Antonio Gonzalez Montana. “Could Pablo Escobar's Escaped Hippos Help the Environment?” National Geographic, 31 Jan. 2020, www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2018/09/colombia-cocaine-hippos-rewilding-experiment-news/.


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