The Costa Rican Congress voted unanimously and the president signed a wonderful law, one that we can only dream of passing in the U.S.: a ban on hunting. The ban has teeth: a fine of up to $3,000 for hunters who break the law.
Costa Rica had a lot to lose if it didn’t end hunting. The country boasts an amazing range of fascinating, beautiful, adorable and unusual animals. It is among the countries with the “highest density of biodiversity in the world,” according to Raw Story. Costa Rican species include jaguars, pumas, armadillos, deer sloths, and a variety of different monkeys, birds, amphibians and reptiles like sea turtles. (To see some of them play the video below.)
Tourists drawn by the fauna come in throngs — about two million a year — and they contribute $2 billion to Costa Rica’s economy.
By happy coincidence, what is good for the animals and ecosystems is also good for the financial well-being of the Central American nation’s residents — and for their moral rectitude.
Assembly President Victor Emilio Granadas said the legislation “allows us to live in peace with other living things that share our planet. I believe this is a message we give to future generations, that an activity like sport hunting is not a sport but a cruelty.”
Amen to that.
The law is not perfect. It permits fishing for sport and hunting for culling, subsistence and scientific purposes. That last exception brings to mind the ban on hunting whales except for scientific purposes, which has proven to be a loophole as large as Japan.
That brings us to the problem of enforcement. If the effort to save elephants and other endangered wildlife in Africa is any indication, poor enforcement could render the law useless.
As Alicia Graef pointed out on this site last week, in Africa poachers with automatic weapons can easily out-shoot the park wardens’ guns. And however well they are armed, wardens can’t be everywhere at once. So the poaching continues despite a ban on trading ivory. About 17,000 wild elephants were killed just in 2011.
Costa Rica will have to devote sufficient resources to enforce the new law. The fact that it originated as a popular initiative suggests that the public is on board with that, so hopefully the government won’t cheap out. And hopefully other countries will follow its lead.
Photo credit: iStockphoto