mercredi 2 novembre 2011

Colombia: The African hippos of Pablo Escobar.

         On December 2, 1993 the famous drug baron, Pablo Escobar was killed officially by the Colombian army. His Zoo of 3,000 ha at the Hacienda Napoles in the Magdalena Medio, north-western Colombia was abandoned. The animals began to multiply unchecked. Twenty years later, the nine hippos were over thirty.
         In 1983, the height of his fame, he had flown more than 2,000 animals: elephants from India, buffalo imported from U.S., Australian kangaroos, flamingos, antelope, deer, rhino, giraffe and nine hippo imported from African countries.

The revolt of Pepe.

         In 2006, the hippopotamus nicknamed "Pepe" believing Africa was tired of being confined to the hacienda. It wanted to explore new territories. It reached the shores of Cocorna, a tributary of the Magdalena River. In its march towards freedom, it made major damage along the way. It damaged fences, dévira plants and seedlings, even killed the calves, creating panic among Colombian peasants.
         These alerted the government. In 2009, three years after its desertion, as its owner, it was simply killed by Colombian police.           
Pablo Escobar was bequeathed to the Colombian state, a serious problem: overpopulation of these animals considered most dangerous of Africa, willing to kill to defend their territory and whose jaw exerts a pressure of one ton per square centimeter.

The fate of Napolitano.

         Seeing back its congener, the hippopotamus known by the name of "Napolitano" who was also African origin thought his compatriot had found happiness away from this zoo cursed, deserted by the tourists prevailed by famine and desolation. It abandoned his mare of the Hacienda Napoles. To avoid the scandal caused by the death of “Pépé” in the press, the green had decided to control these animals without resorting to violence.
         In early 2010, the photographer Mauricio Veles and the veterinary Carlos Valderama anxious to protect these poor abandoned animals decided to make a documentary about the zoo of the Hacienda Napoles. They contacted the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. The two TV channels were seduced by the idea of ​​running a television showing live capture and castration of African hippopotamus "Napolitano."

Castration of Hippo in Africa live: a world first.

         In December 2010, the veterinary Carlos Valderama went to the area where he had spotted Napolitano. He followed the track of the large mammal, installed cameras in the trees and eventually locate the big beast 15 km from the Hacienda Napoles.
         He immediately called the people involved in the project who joined him soon. Photographer Mauricio Velez, director of the documentary landed with a team of veterinaries, cameramen and assistants. The operation requires a heavy logistics: an elevator, crane, helicopter, a large cage and two vans. The whole team rushed to the pursuit of Napolitano, but fearing his formidable jaws.
         Each spotted a piece of strategic retreat in case of slippage of the operation. If the animal abuse charge, he had to run every stride and run around a tree until the exhaustion of the animal in Africa.
         At 4:30 'in the morning, when Napolitano was grazing quietly, he received his first dose of a powerful tranquilizer. The drawer, lurking quietly in the vegetation from the long hours, had seized the moment to adjust his shot.
         Once the hippopotamus totally rang the veterinary not too reassured approached him quietly and castrated. The animal was still asleep loaded into the elevator and taken back by helicopter to the Hacienda Napoles.
         The operation was a success. Since that day, the Colombian authorities are studying the possibility of controlling the birth rate among hippos: One solution is to castrate all the males. The castrated animals thus become less aggressive and can not reproduce. But we must, of course, guarantee the security of players, which is very expensive.
         The government has also been invoked possibily to build a hall, but the proposed budget has not yet been released. Hippos continue to reproduce and threaten the peace of the inhabitants of Magdalena Medio.
         This is the difficult legacy of Pablo Escobar and the posthumous revenge of one of the largest sponsors of drugs in Colombia.

But why so much love for animals from a drug lord?

Among the many assumptions, some think that Pablo Escobar had built a zoo to keep the sleuths of the anti-drug from the edge of his property. The smell of feces of wild animals would have discouraged police teams to come to "sniff" around. This has not been verified.
         Yet in the 1980s, the police, who led a total war without against the drug lords and seized tons of goods at airports and seaports. For the cartels, the losses could be counted in millions of dollars. Police dogs sniffed cocaine in suitcases, clothes and fruit.
         And these creatures endowed with exceptional olfactory abilities were among the few living things that Pablo Escobar could not corrupt. His slogan was: "Plata o Plomo" which means: "Money or lead", in other words "You take the pot accepts bribes or you die."
In Mexico, drug traffickers (who also own Zoos) attempted to convey bags of cocaine in the womb of sharks, frozen, in one of vipers or in aquariums of tropical fish ...

Pablo Escobar, an unusual character.

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was born on 1 December 1949 in Rionegro, Antioquia, Colombia. The son of a peasant, he was educated and had even tried to go to graduate school at the University of Antioquia. At 20, he began with the theft of tombstones and cars.
         He is rapidly gaining 100,000 USD by removing and demanding ransoms to senior living in Medellín. From 1975, he was noted as the biggest drug trafficker in Colombia. He was the head of the Medellin cartel.
         Entered politics in 1982, he was elected as a deputy representative alternative to the Board of Representatives of the Colombian Liberal Party. He became popular by removing Medellin slums and building 500 houses being built on 3000 and distributing some of his ill-gotten gains to the poor. He built roads and hospitals.
         From 1984, Escobar terrorized the country. This system resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, including civilians, policemen, journalists and representatives of the state. He had killed over 100 people with his own hands. Among his victims, there are three of five candidates in the presidential election of 1989 with Luis Carlos Galan. In their account, add the explosion of Avianca Flight 203 and the DAS Building bombing in Bogotá in 1989.
         He is also suspected to be the basis for making the courthouse in Bogota by a paramilitary group of extreme left, the M-19, resulting in the killing of half of the judges of the Supreme Court of Colombia. An event described as “the most famous event” in modern history of Colombia. At the same time, Escobar bribed many officials, judges and other politicians.
         In 1986, he proposed to repay the foreign debt of Colombia which was $ 10 billion. In 1989, his fortune was estimated at $ 25 billion. He was the seventh world fortune according to Forbes Magazine.
         Medellin became the world capital of crime with 25,100 homicides in 1991 and 27,100 deaths in 1992. On June 19, 1991, he agreed to go and be placed in a luxurious prison, nickname "The Cathedral", specially designed for him and through him with the promise of not being delivered to the United States.
         He made it his new headquarters, receiving his accomplices, shooting even people in the prison and giving his orders from his luxurious cell.
         When he escaped Dec. 10, 1992 with 30 men, he took hostage a group of businessmen from the airport to the center of Medellin and demanded the sum of $ 300,000.
         He was killed Dec. 2, 1993 in his stronghold of Medellin in the American commando operation called "heavy shadow",
his head had been priced by the United States for six million euros.

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