The resettlement of hippos, which breed uncontrollably in Colombia, will cost a lot of money: "The entire operation should cost about 3.5 million dollars," said the owner of the Ostok Conservation Area in northern Mexico, Ernesto Zazueta, on Wednesday (local time ) where ten of the giant pachyderms are to be housed. The animals, which come from Africa, were once settled in the Colombian region of Medellín by drug lord Pablo Escobar - and have now become a real plague there.
The governor of the Colombian region of Antioquia, Aníbal Gaviria, wants to save the animals from being shot down. 70 of the almost 150 hippos in the region are to be flown out to protected areas in India and Mexico in the coming months. The goal is the first half of 2023, he said.
The hippos are descended from the few specimens that Escobar had flown in from Africa for his private zoo in the 1980s. After the powerful drug lord was killed in a police operation in 2013, the pachyderms were released. They have since populated an area around the Magdalena River, where authorities say they are threatening local wildlife and people living along the river.
After plans to sterilize the animals, which can weigh up to three tons, fell through, the Colombian authorities finally declared them an "invasive" species last year. This means they are also released for hunting.
In addition to the ten hippos that are to find a new home in Mexico, there are plans for another 60 to be relocated to a protected area in India. Zazueta said the animals would first be flown to India, then to Mexico.