New fertility ‘pop-up’ helps Spanish hippos breed

Image copyright AFP Image caption Islanders face losing their herds of hippos as a result of the contraceptive plan Pregnant hippos in northern Colombia have started giving birth naturally again as a result of…

New fertility 'pop-up' helps Spanish hippos breed

Image copyright AFP Image caption Islanders face losing their herds of hippos as a result of the contraceptive plan

Pregnant hippos in northern Colombia have started giving birth naturally again as a result of a new contraceptive programme.

The government has been attempting to stop a decline in the population of the freshwater animals.

Historically, females gave birth to two to three calves every year, while bulls were responsible for breeding.

Now, officials in the coastal town of Barranquilla are making contraceptives available to pregnant females.

A male calf born each year

Since 2008, female hippos have been supplied with emergency contraceptives to prevent birth until after the baby is born.

The programme is the second of its kind in Colombia, and succeeds in keeping the population stable at 18,000 hippos.

In addition to being critical for spawning the hippo’s ecological functions such as maintaining the fresh water balance and regulating the number of animals.

But the technique is controversial, as it is illegal to put contraceptives on mammals in the wild.

The World Wildlife Fund has said if the method is used in other countries, there are still questions about whether it could affect wild populations.

Campaigners are also calling for extra protection for the females after saying that only a quarter of the new calves born so far have survived.

Dissemination of the contraceptives was also extremely difficult, the environmental protection agency said.

Once the animals have made their way up the Amazon river, they are given contraceptives for eight months.

The pregnant hippos are then let go, but they need to be tracked to make sure they avoid fish and other sedentary animals for two weeks.

The measure was introduced by the Colombian government to help the endangered animals after a steep population decline.

In Colombia, wild hippos were previously facing threats from illegal poaching and habitat destruction and plastic waste entering the rivers.

– BBC

Leave a Comment