Through resolution 346 of 2022, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development declared hippos an invasive species. The decision was made on the basis of the results of the evaluation of the National Technical Committee on Introduced Species, considering “their high risk of invasion, ecological impact, pollution in water bodies, alteration in plant diversity and the impact they make to the activities of fishermen in the Magdalena River”. Determination that concerns some environmental collectives, for Pablo Escobar's mammals.
Although the management plan being implemented by the Regional Environmental Authorities includes, among other measures, the containment of hippos, their birth control, surveillance and permanent monitoring actions (as well as different measures to prevent their commercialization and various educational campaigns), there were those who, anticipating whatever might happen to them, they held a signathon for the MinAmbiente to protect them.
A total of 10,800 Colombians started a 'firmaton' on Change.org, asking the Ministry to protect this species.
This digital activism movement is led by Miguel Aparicio, president of the Namigni Animal Sanctuary Foundation. The 10,800 citizens who signed the petition also support Aparicio's idea of creating a sanctuary for animals, with the support of different NGOs and involving international organizations with experience in this area.
The leader of this movement pointed out that the purpose of the sanctuary is to safeguard the species there and that it is located in the same region where the animals are found, that is, in the municipality of Puerto Triunfo (Antioquia).
For this reason, in the coming days a formal proposal will be sent to President Iván Duque that through the Society for Special Assets (SAE) one or more buildings, which previously belonged to drug trafficking, be allocated through the Special Assets Society (SAE), so that the sanctuary can be built there.
For his part, Luis Domingo Gómez, is the one who is in charge of the legal defense of hippos, in the coming days he will ask the Council of State, through a legal action supported by Law 1774 of 2016, to annul the MinAmbiente resolution that declared hippos as an invasive species.
It is worth recalling that the Alexander von Humboldt Institute and the National University of Colombia determined that the 133 hippos that are present in the country are a species introduced more than 40 years ago at the request of the historic drug trafficker Pablo Escobar and pose a threat to strategic ecosystems and species natives like the manatee. Meanwhile, the authorities estimate that there are currently between 80 and 100 hippos outside the Hacienda Nápoles, specifically in the middle Magdalena River and its basins.
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Faced with the possibility of disappearing the hippos, MinAmbiente ruled out this exit and promised not to consider the option of carrying out a controlled hunt. “For now, only their capture, sterilization and return to the premises of the Hacienda Nápoles is contemplated,” they said. In Colombia, Judgment C-045/19 prohibits the issuance of these permits.