Source - It might be time to cull the world’s largest invasive species: Pablo Escobar’s “cocaine hippos.”
The rapidly reproducing, 4,000-pound (each) beasts have taken over Colombia’s waterways, poisoning wildlife with their toxic urine and feces, scientists say.
They’re not actually carrying cocaine—they’re survivors from the late cocaine kingpin’s luxury estate, Hacienda Napoles, after he smuggled in four of them from a U.S. zoo in the 1980s.
And like most invasive species, they got busy getting busy. With no natural predators and abundant water sources creating a hippo paradise, the population has exploded to 80, and researchers estimate that by 2039 the population will grow to more than 1,400. This hippo fleet has tormented Colombia’s Puerto Triunfo ecosystem—competing with native wildlife and polluting waterways with their toxic poops that fuel algae blooms and reduce oxygen available for native fish.
But they’ve also become very popular with the local people, and quite the tourist attraction—there’s a whole economy surrounding hippo safari tours and now a theme park. ...
Government attempts at management have included castration, but scientists only managed to castrate about one hippo per year, since their internal testes are rather tough to reach. ...
“For me what is necessary here is to protect and preserve the integrity of our ecosystem over an exotic species,” study co-author Nataly Castelblanco-Martínez told VICE News, “even if this exotic species is super charismatic and super cute.”
How is that for a bizarre legacy to leave, 30 years after your death? Long after people forget you were the guy who provided the fuel that ran America's disco culture, got millions of guys with disposable income laid and became the richest crime boss in history, they'll know you as the guy who destroyed an entire ecosystem with horny, two ton toxic shitting machines. How many supervillains get to say that?
The thing I can't get past in all this is that it is such a real world example of everything Ian Malcolm said in the Jurassic Park films. Life found a way. Humans meddled around in the affairs of nature and it wound up biting them in the ass like it always seems to. It's the essence of Chaos Theory, the Butterfly Effect and the rape of the natural world he tried to school Dr. Hammond about. Pablo Escobar was so preoccupied with whether or not he could keep four Horny, Horny Hippos that they didn't stop to think if he should.
And to me the real kicker is that people are actually debating whether they should wipe these invasive, unnatural, destructive critters from their land. Why? Because they're useful? No. Friendly? Fuck no. Hippos are legitimately among the most dangerous animals in the world, responsible for as many deaths in Africa as any mammal. Because they provide food? Actually, the opposite. No, people want these things around because they're "super charismatic and super cute." Period.
Tell me that's not a miracle of evolution. Life found a way to make a highly dangerous, highly destructive, animal survive in a place where it doesn't belong because humans find it charming and adorable. Imagine if there was another creature in the jungle that could kill humans, pissed and shit poison, was gifted with hard-to-find internal testicals, and bred like a Mormon reality show family, but looked like the blind aliens from A Quiet Place. We'd have a bounty on their heads and hand bags made out of their hides would be all the rage in fashion circles. But since these nasty, aquatic death busses have big round tummys and chubby cheeks and look like they're smiling, a cottage tourism industry has grown up around them. It's insane. But it's how humans are wired.
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail. Maybe another industry will crop up instead. Highly trained hippo castrators, armed with the tools and the knowledge to locate their hidden nutsacks, willing to go in there and do the dirty job no one else will and solve this problem. Until then, thanks a lot, Escobar. It's guys like you who give narco terrorists a bad name.