Costa Rica has become the first Latin American country to ban sport hunting. The nation’s Congress voted unanimously on the ban.
Costa Rica is already known as an environmentally conscious country, with 25 percent of its land protected as national parks and wildlife reserves.
Under the new law, anyone caught hunting can face up to four months in prison and fines up to $3,000.
The new law is aimed squarely at wildlife traffickers, the exotic pet business and wealthy foreigners who come there for an easy kill. Costa Rica is home to many exotic cats, including jaguars and mountain lions. Parrots are also very popular with people in the exotic pet business.
Assembly president Victor Emilio Granadas said the new law will “allow us to live in peace with other living things that share our planet … This is a message we give to future generations, that an activity like sport hunting is not a sport but a cruelty.”
The new law aims to protect not only the animals themselves but also Costa Rica’s economy, which relies heavily on tourism. Kill off the wildlife and you kill the reason for people to come visiting.
Other Central and South American countries have also been making moves to protect their nonhuman animals. Bolivia has been working toward a Law of Mother Earth, which will recognize the natural world as having equal status to humans, and the Earth as having certain specific rights.
Bolivia also has a law banning the use of wild animals in circuses and other shows. And last year, voters in Ecuador approved a measure to ban the killing of bulls and other animals for entertainment.