Notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar’s brutal regime ended in a hail of bullets. His infamous reign of terror – dramatised in Narcos – left Colombia with the legacy of a corrupt narco-state and something more bizarre: African hippos. In the 1980s, Escobar smuggled four hippos into Colombia to join his growing collection of exotic animals at his $63 million estate outside Medellin. Left to fend for themselves in the wake of his death, these extremely dangerous beasts broke out and have become the world’s largest alien invasive species.
Today, breeding at twice their typical rate and with no natural predators keeping them in check, more than 60 roam the Colombian wilds, wreaking havoc in villages at night and threatening the ecosystem that feeds into the Amazon river. Surprisingly, Colombians adore their hippos despite these dangers and it’s illegal to cull them. Left with no other option, Colombian vet Dr. Gina Serna is tasked with capturing and sterilising the hippos – an operation never before performed in the wild in Colombia,
but caught on camera by a British filmmaker in The Hunt For Escobar’s Hippos (January 8th, 8pm).