SAN JOSE Dec 10 Costa Rica on Monday became the
first Latin American country to ban hunting as a sport,
following an unanimous and final vote from Congress.
Lawmakers had provisionally approved a reform to its
Wildlife Conservation law back in October. With a population of
4.5 million people, Costa Rica is one of the world's most
The Central American country is already known for its
environmental mindset, with some 25 percent of its land
protected as national parks or reserves.
Under the new law, those caught hunting can face up to four
months in prison or fines of up to $3,000.
Smaller penalties for people who steal wild animals or keep
them as pets were also included in the reform. Jaguars, pumas
and sea turtles are among Costa Rica's most treasured species.
"There is no data on how much money hunting generates in the
country, but we do know there are currently clandestine hunting
tours that go for about $5,000 per person," said Arturo
Carballo, deputy director at Apreflofas, an environmentalist
organization who spearheaded the reform.
Foreign hunters come to Costa Rica in search of exotic
felines while others look to obtain rare and colorful parrots as
This is also Costa Rica's first proposal that came to
Congress by popular initiative, with 177,000 signatures calling
for the ban submitted two years ago.
(Reporting By Isabella Cota; Editing by Eric Walsh)