Stories tagged columbia


Dude, you're outta here: A growing hippo population in the South American country of Columbia is becoming a huge invasive species problem for the nation.
Dude, you're outta here: A growing hippo population in the South American country of Columbia is becoming a huge invasive species problem for the nation.Courtesy Alexdi
Just read an interesting report from about a huge, literally, invasive species problem in Columbia, South America. It seems that there's a growing population of hippos there, the offspring of four captive hippos that were once owned by drug lord Pablo Escobar. He had the hippos on his property as a defense mechanism against enemies. Escobar met his demise 16 years ago in drug violence, but his hippos have lived on, multiplied and moved off of his estate. The current population is estimated at about 28, with about six births occuring a year. That projects to about 100 non-native hippos being in Columbia in the next decade.

Government officials have offered the hippos free to any zoo or wildlife area that would like to claim them, but have had no takers. In the meantime, wildlife and Army officials have been "eliminating" the hippos found the wild determining that they're an invasive species that can alter the balance of nature in that region of the world. Animal enthusiasts in Columbia, however, are irate that such drastic measures are being taken. Some are even calling for the firing of Columbia's environmental minister.

Here's a National Geographic report on the situaion.

So what do you think should be done about this situation? Do you want to be the one to tell the hippos they've got to move back to Africa?

Feb 1, 2003

"The Columbia is lost; there are no survivors. The cause in which they died will continue. Our journey into space will go on."(President Bush)

A bright yellow and red-crowned Yariguies brush-finch has been discovered in Columbia's Andean cloud forest.


The newest fighting force on the war on terror: white lab rats.

A team of six little rodents are now part of the arsenal of tools that Columbian police are using to sniff out bombs and land mines. And it’s their little size that’s the biggest thing going for them.

Police are preparing to use the rats to find and defuse the more than 100,000 land mines that pepper the Columbian countryside, the result of hostilities between the Columbian government and leftist rebels.

The rats, which weigh less than half a pound, don’t trigger any explosions when they walk atop the mines. Dogs or people, who’ve tracked down mines in the past, don’t have that light-weight luxury.

Over the past year, the rats have gone through daily training where they are placed in a maze which holds C-4 explosives and other bomb making materials. When they find a target, they’re rewarded: a cracker for their palates and a stroke on the top of their heads.

So far, the rats have been able to locate explosives 83 percent of the time. But they won’t get to try their skills out in the field until they hit the 100-percent mark, a benchmark trainers figure they’ll get to in another six months.

It’s believed Columbia is the first country to use rats for finding mines and bombs, but larger rodents have been used for similar work in the Sudan.

If the experiment works out, the little critters could have a big impact. Columbia has the highest number of land mine victims in the world. Last year, 1,070 people were involved in mines explosions. About one quarter of those people died.

And in a related development, researchers in New York are developing “Roborat.” The technology allows police to control rats’ movements by sending electronic impulses to their brains via miniature electronic backpacks strapped to their bodies.