The lack of predators and the absence of severe droughts meant that the four hippopotamuses, which arrived in Colombia from the African continent in the 1980s, are currently considered an invasive and threatened population, an issue that has been a pain for environmental experts then. There was controversy after the possibility of some of them being executed in early 2021 as a measure to control their breeding.
In an interview with CNN, veterinarian Gina Paola Cerna explained that in the fight to control hippo populations that are not in environments hostile to them, it has been a long task, But it started with the injection of a chemical a few days back to sterilize them and thus avoid thinking about their execution.
“So, in a project that will last about two to three years, we want to sterilize almost 100% of the hippo population found in this lake,” Serna told international media.
The decision to act on the control of the hippopotamus population came because in recent years, the local people of the area began to reach them in rural areas, moreover, they expanded to areas where fishing activities There are cases of animal attacks on people.
This sterilization work was carried out by Cornere (Corporation Autónoma Regional de las Cuenca de los Ríos Negro y Nare), which in October launched a pilot sterilization program to reduce the impact of hippos in this region of the country.
According to a National Geographic report, If nothing is done to stop this population from growing uncontrollably, Colombia could have about 1,400 specimens in the next 15 years.
“Only they produce it and we know that its implementation is being studied for wild megafauna species,” Cornare biologist David Echeveri told El Colombiano newspaper.
According to a report by the US Wildlife Service, Gonacon is a contraceptive vaccine that stimulates the production of antibodies that inhibit the GnRH hormone (gonadotropins) responsible for the production of sex hormones.
According to the latest National Geographic report, 24 hippos were chemically sterilized with this vaccine.
Possible environmental impact of hippos in Colombia,
Hippos are thought to be engineers who alter their roaming landscape, for this reason they are called bioengineers, because according to David Echeveri López, coordinator of the forest area at the Regional Autonomous Corporation of the Black and Nare Rivers Basin (Cornare), they are “Because they are so big and when they move in herds, they can even turn the river bed. There is evidence of this in Africa.” issue that worries the country’s environmentalists.
According to a report by the Reuters agency, it is estimated that about 90 hippopotamuses roam freely in the region, They are the children of those brought by drug trafficker Pablo Escobar to his private zoo in Hacienda Napoles, along with gazelles, camels and elephants, among other exotic species.
According to National Geographic, this is the beginning of an experiment that may not ultimately solve the problem, but with which officials hope to be a part of the solution. Unlike surgical intervention, chemical sterilization is an inexpensive and less invasive procedure, being tested in the United States on deer and wild horses.
On the other hand, Brigitte Baptiste, Rector of EAN University, has indicated that she is aware of several complaints on social networks by residents of Doradal and Puerto Trianfo about the sale of baby hippos.
“They have taken many hippopotamuses to private farms. They buy them from small residents of Doradal for prices between 5 and 10 million pesos. They are kept there as pets. It has been written to me through other networks ”, An issue that worries officials, who fear they will start seeing this spice in other parts of Colombia.