Surprised were the guests of a restaurant in the Colombian town of Puerto Triunfo, in the department of Antioquia, when they saw two hippos walking through the streets of the town, without causing damage or attacking the locals.
Local media published videos on their web pages in which the two mammals walk quietly through an urban area from the Doradal farmhouse, in Puerto Triunfo, near a restaurant.
The Hacienda Napoles Theme Park told RCN Radio that the two animals are part of the group of between 20 and 50 hippos that are in the farm’s lake and are in the care of the national government and the Regional Autonomous Corporation of the Negro and Nare River Basins (Cornare), so they are not part of the three that are guarded by the park.
The coordinator of Forests and Biodiversity of Cornare, David Echeverri López, explained that it is about juvenile individuals, which in their exploration pass near this area where they were captured by the citizens.
“It’s a situation that had happened before, but hadn’t happened for some time. It’s, shall we say, a situation that reflects the problem represented by the presence of hippopotamuses in this wild”, Lopez detailed.
At the beginning of last February, the Colombian authorities announced that they will include the hippos, which were imported into the country by drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, in the list of invasive species based on technical and scientific studies.
The Ministry of the Environment explained at the time that it is the first step to define concrete actions against the situation of the species in the country and was taken by the National Technical Committee for Introduced and/or Transplanted Invasive Species.
A study of the hippos in the country carried out by the Alexander von Humboldt Institute and the Institute of Natural Sciences of the National University showed the environmental risks caused by the invasion of this species in strategic ecosystems and that would impact some native species.
From a whim of Pablo Escobar, to a danger to the Colombian ecosystem
Hippopotamuses were introduced in Colombia more than 40 years ago and have migrated from Magdalena Medio to the Momposina Depression, according to a study by the Alexander von Humboldt Institute and the National University, being a threat to native species such as the manatee, as well as for the country’s strategic ecosystems.
Escobar imported four hippos from a zoo in the United States in 1981 to form part of the collection of exotic animals from his Hacienda Napoles, and that have now been reproduced without control.