The New York Times

Colombia Confronts Drug Lord’s Legacy: Hippos

Sept 11--Even in Colombia, a country known for its paramilitary death squads, this hunting party stood out: more than a dozen soldiers from a Colombian Army battalion, two Porsche salesmen armed with long-range rifles, their assistant, and a taxidermist.

11 de septiembre de 2009

They stalked Pepe through the backlands of Colombia for three days in June before executing him in a clearing about 60 miles from here with shots to his head and heart. But after a snapshot emerged of soldiers posing over his carcass, the group suddenly found itself on the defensive.

As it turned out, Pepe — a hippopotamus who escaped from his birthplace near the pleasure palace built here by the slain drug lord Pablo Escobar — had a following of his own.

The meticulously organized operation to hunt Pepe down, carried out with the help of environmentalists, has become the focus of an unusually fierce debate over animal rights and the containment of invasive species in a country still struggling to address a broad range of rights violations during four decades of protracted war with guerrillas.
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