Colombia is putting its ‘cocaine hippos’ on birth control

Jaguar herd killed to stop women from fathering them, and part of the country used as spooils Colombia is putting its “cocaine hippos” on birth control A drugged river hippo who has fathered dozens…

Colombia is putting its ‘cocaine hippos’ on birth control

Jaguar herd killed to stop women from fathering them, and part of the country used as spooils

Colombia is putting its “cocaine hippos” on birth control

A drugged river hippo who has fathered dozens of babies is the face of Colombia’s drive to stop women from impregnating their male hippo companions, officials said.

The animal, also known as a mantecera (bear-tongue hippo), has one of the largest litters in its species, with 40 or more animals born each year. That is the world’s highest average and reflects the fact that most hippos live in dense rainforest, making it hard for them to come into contact with fertilising males.

Almost all the beasts are male. So-called hippo zombies were first reported in Colombia in 2009, feeding on urban excrement in the capital Bogotá before quietly moving away.

Pediatricians recorded 129 mother-and-son cycles of parenthood with 30 calves. At least half of the offspring weighed between 400g and 700g – the size of a house cat – and were stillborn or had “mummified” corpses.

The killing of the capuchin-like creature to limit the numbers and kill the father of them has upset wildlife experts and concerns have been raised about chemical fumigation.

Experts believe some of the animals have been captured and killed with poison to stop them mating. Others are believed to have been smuggled into the Venezuelan jungle. The drugs that stop the female hippos from having children must be lethal, officials said.

Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro has ordered a ban on fishing near their protected sites. The entire country’s wildlife is at risk from the opiate flooding into the supply chain.

About 95% of Colombia’s greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and cattle ranchers.

Authorities are divided over whether to dump potentially toxic chemicals near rivers and lakes. Some worry about the potential impact on wildlife, but chemical fumigation was approved by the wildlife agency in January.

In March, Colombia issued a petition to join the Venezuelan protection plan to contain the crisis. Failing that, Colombia will be forced to limit exports.

Greenpeace accused the government of trying to “dismantle” the eco-system by allowing fumigation. Environmentalists are concerned about a possible domino effect that will lead to the destruction of forests and biodiversity.

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