Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Colombian Hippos - a story not to be sniffed at?

Invasive species - animals which have been introduced accidentally or on purpose from a foreign land, and which now flourish to the detriment of native species, are a conservationists nightmare all across the world. The subject is often broached on these pages, but recently the question came up: "What is the largest invasive species in the world?"

Good old Wildlife Extra posed a similar question, and - I imagine - were as surprised as we are with the probably answers.

Hippopotami in South America? Shurely Shome Mistake???

"Pablo Escobar, the notorious drugs lord, had so much money that he didn't know what to do with it. Amongst other things (A bullring, an airstrip, an ersatz Jurassic Park with half a dozen immense concrete dinosaurs.), he stocked part of his huge estate with hundreds of exotic animals, including elephants, camels, giraffes, ostriches and zebras. He created a lake for hippos and four were released into the lake.

Escobar was killed by Colombian security forces in 1993 and the ownership of the ranch has passed into government hands. All the exotic animals have long since disappeared, except the hippos. The original four founded a herd that now numbers 19, and no one knows what to do with them. They are becoming a pest as they roam the local countryside at night looking for food - One was recently shot by a local farmer some 3 miles away. The hacienda is not securely fenced and the park management does not have the funds to erect a suitable fence, or to feed the animals. "

For more details Read On

Being who we are, I offered this story to various members of the CFZ team, including my friend Charlie. I thought this was a toot of an opportunity; an article not to be sniffed at. However, they all turned it down, saying that they would not be able to stay within the white lines of CFZ protocol, and not make a string of cocaine jokes.

Shame on them!

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