The most famous drug lord on earth Pablo Escobar was Dubbed “the king of cocaine”, Escobar is the wealthiest criminal in history, having amassed an estimated net worth of $30 billion by the time of his death, equivalent to $64 billion as of 2021 he was shot dead in a gunfight with authorities in 1993.
A man with a lavish lifestyle and more cash than he could possibly use came to amassed a huge collection of exotic animals for his private zoo in the Medellin. These included four illegally smuggled Hippos that have since been dubbed the Cocaine Hippos
The Hippos were smuggled in to his Hacienda Napoles estate in the town of Puerto Triunfo in north west Columbia in the early 1980s which have now become a family of around 130
Many of Escobar’s other animals were captured and relocated after his death. However, the hippos proved difficult to catch, so left to flourish and have multiplied in numbers.
They were allowed to stay on the land, but soon escaped to an area around the Magdalena River.
Jorge Caro Lopez, a vet at Hacienda Napoles, now a theme park, said they already inhabit various areas in the sub-region of Magdalena Medio Antioquia, adding that some areas “now look like Africa”.
Scientists warned that these animals do not have a natural predator in Colombia and are a potential problem for biodiversity, since their faeces affect rivers and the habitat of local manatees and capybaras.
In May 2019, a large hippo was filmed walking around a residential area as dogs barked at it.
A hippo attacked a man fishing with his son on October 31 last year, leaving him hospitalised.
Colombian Environment Minister Carlos Eduardo Correa has said the animals will be declared an invasive alien species and the law has come into effect in the coming weeks.
The government announced it will assemble a team of experts to draw up plans for how to deal with the 130 hippos, expected to reach 400 by the end of the decade if their breeding is not controlled
There is talk of castration, sterilisation and even euthanising some specimens.
He also explained that communities in the area will be consulted while the control plan is being drawn up.
However, local residents and animal activists oppose the declaration of the ‘cocaine hippos’ as an invasive species and will fight to get the law changed.