Colombia has a Hippo Problem

Colombian vets begin Escobar hippo sterilisations

Some of the hippos born on the Escobar estate were donated to other zoos in Colombia

Vets in Colombia have started sterilising hippos descended from animals shipped to a private zoo set up by the infamous drug baron Pablo Escobar.

The hippos lived on Escobar’s estate in the northern province of Antioquia but some escaped.

The population living wild is estimated to have grown to around 60 animals.

There have been years of debate about what to do with them.

The hippos have thrived in the tropical Colombian climate, its waterways and rich vegetation.

There have been sightings of them far from the Escobar estate, which has fallen into disrepair.

The Escobar estate, called Hacienda Napoles, also contained 1,900 other wild animals

The hippo problem has been a difficult one to tackle effectively

But the animals eat tons of vegetation and farmers’ crops.

There have been years of debate about what to do with them and discussions about whether they should be culled.

But many Colombians like them and there there have even been cases of calves being taken home as pets.

Five years ago, the authorities shot and killed one of the hippos on the Escobar estate and the incident caused outrage. The hunt for other animals was called off.

But the government says the hippos pose a public safety risk and is funding the sterilisations from money seized from drug traffickers.

Source: BBCNews

Fish and chips harming eider ducks

Eider ducks in Northumberland’s coastal areas are being harmed by people feeding them fish and chips, a wildlife expert has warned.

Chris Watson says people living or visiting the area often wrongly believe eiders are tame as they are “friendly”.

He told BBC Radio Four’s Broadcasting House the sea birds may seem to enjoy the food but it damages their eggs.

The Northumberland coast is recognised as a haven for wild birds, including colonies of eiders.

Mr Watson, whose work as a nature sound recordist includes documentaries with Sir David Attenborough, said: “Normally eider ducks eat shellfish not fish and chips – [which is] lacking calcium so the eggs are failing.

“There’s a problem because they are such attractive, friendly birds to feed, and yet the food that we are giving them – bread and things like that – is actually causing a dietary problem.”

The RSPB says eiders are the UK’s heaviest ducks and the fastest flying. As well as the Northumberland coast, they are resident off Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Source: BBCNews