Costa Rica just became the first Latin America Country to ban hunting for sport.
Costa Rica’s Congress voted unanimously to approve the ban, which will protect the country’s wildlife – including several species of native big cats. Any hunters caught breaking the new law will face jail time or hefty fines.
Hunters from around the world flock to Costa Rica to hunt the country’s jaguars and pumas for sport – or to capture the cats and sell them on the black market as pets. Illegal hunting tours bring in a pretty penny for tour leaders, and their popularity helped spur the newly announced ban. Parrots are also a target, since they can be captured and smuggled out to be sold as pets around the world.
The Costa Rican people started the initiative to protect their animals – it began as a grass-roots campaign that brought over 177,000 signatures to the national Congress. Now that the bill has been approved, violators of the hunting ban will face up to four months in jail and fines up to $3,000.
Earlier this fall, an amendment was made to the country’s Wildlife Conservation law. The new hunting ban strengthens this reform. Costa Rica is a very environmentally conscious country, and it has placed a major focus on conserving its rich biodiversity.