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Colombia wants to deport 70 hippos from a group that once belonged to drug lord Pablo Escobar because they won’t stop breeding

Hippos at Pablo Escobar ranch
Hippos near the former ranch of the drug lord Pablo Escobar in Colombia.RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP via Getty Images
  • The drug lord Pablo Escobar imported hippos to live on his Colombian ranch. They've rapidly bred.

  • Now authorities want to send at least 70 hippos to Mexico and India, CBS News reported.

  • The proposed plan to curb the number of hippos follows failed sterilization efforts by authorities.

Colombia plans to deport at least 70 of the "cocaine hippos" that live in and around Pablo Escobar's former ranch, CBS News reported.

The drug lord illegally imported hippopotamuses to his Hacienda Nápoles ranch, about 125 miles away from Bogotá, in the 1980s. When he was fatally shot in 1993, four hippos were left at the ranch.

Decades on, however, environmental authorities estimate that there are now about 130 hippos in the area, with the group having rapidly reproduced and spread beyond the confines of the ranch, CBS News reported.

Authorities fear that the number of hippos could reach 400 within eight years, with the animals multiplying fast because of a lack of natural predators, favorable weather conditions, and ample food and water, CBS News said.

The growth of the region's hippo population has long been known.

"Within a couple of decades, there could be thousands of them," Jonathan Shurin, an ecologist with the University of California San Diego, told National Geographic in 2020.

The newly proposed plan would involve sending at least 60 hippos to Gujarat in India and another 10 to zoos and sanctuaries in Mexico.

It focuses on the animals living outside the ranch because those inside live in a controlled environment and don't threaten the local ecosystem, CBS News said.

The plan is to lure the hippos into iron containers before transporting them by truck to a nearby airport, where they would be flown to India and Mexico, the outlet reported.

The media outlet added that Ecuador, Botswana, and the Philippines have also registered interest in taking some.

Colombia last year declared the animals, which are sometimes referred to as "cocaine hippos" because of Escobar's role in the cocaine trade and the Medellín drug cartel, an invasive species that could displace some native species.

The country has sterilized some of the hippos in the past, but they continue to multiply at an unsustainable rate, Shurin told National Geographic.

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