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February 18, 2016

Costa Rica’s Minister of Environment Declares Wildlife Issues a National Priority

Launches campaign calling on the public to do their part to protect wildlife

Humane Society International/Latin America, Ministry of Environment and Energy

  • HSI

The Costa Rican Minister of Environment presented the country’s official stance on wildlife, stating that wildlife issues are a priority to the nation. During a press conference, Minister Edgar Gutiérrez highlighted the importance of respecting wildlife in a country where tourist activities are developed around its natural resources and are one of Costa Rica’s main sources of income. The Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica made its presentation in conjunction with universities, governmental entities and social civil groups, including Humane Society International/Latin America.

Minister Gutiérrez stated: “Wildlife issues are a priority, their importance is unquestionable because of their intrinsic value, their contributions to maintaining a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, and their fundamental roll in the country´s economy”. Gutiérrez continued: “The declaration of the fauna as an asset in the public domain and the flora as an asset of public interest implies that all Costa Ricans have the duty to protect wildlife and ensuring that future generations can enjoy of what we have today. The government is responsible for looking for mechanisms to ensure that the legal and scientific criteria guarantee the protection of wildlife.”

During the event, MINAE presented the National Commission on Wildlife which aims to offer advice and technical support to MINAE and Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación (National System of Conservation Areas – SINAC) on the conservation, management, sustainable use and fair and equitable distribution of the benefits of wildlife. This commission is formed by institutions like Escuela de Medicina Veterinaria (School of Veterinary Medicine) and Instituto Internacional para la Conservación y Manejo de Vida Silvestre de la Universidad Nacional (National Institute for Wildlife Conservation and Management at the National Unitversity), Escuela de Biología de la Universidad de Costa Rica, Colegio Profesional de Biólogos (School of Biology at Costa Rica University’s Professional School of Biologists),  SINAC and civil Society organizations  HSI/Latin America and Asociación Preservacionista de Flora y Fauna Silvestre (Apreflofas).

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The event also served to launch “Acéptelo es ilegal, los animales silvestres son de todos nosotros” (Accept It, It’s Illegal, Wildlife Belongs to All of Us), a public information campaign supported by former national soccer star Mauricio “El Chunche” Montero. This campaign aims to strengthen implementation of the Wildlife Conservation Law No.7317 by informing the public about the threats to wildlife in Costa Rica, such as illegally keeping wildlife as pets and the impact of tourism-related activities on wildlife, including the feeding of wild animals. This campaign is an initiative of Apreflofas, HSI/Latin America, Cucumelo Films and MINAE with funding provided by the U.S Department of State.

Cynthia Dent, executive director of HSI/Latin America, said: “Public outreach and education are very important tools to facilitate changes in the way people coexist with wildlife. Focusing our efforts on informing the public on ways they can actively participate in wildlife protection is a way to ensure the sustainability of our natural heritage.”

Other wildlife issues highlighted at the event included restrictions on the use of wild animals in advertising, official certification of wildlife rescue centers based on international standards, human-wildlife urban interactions and the impacts of wild animals on infrastructure and electricity projects.

Media Contacts:

Shirley Ramírez Carvajal – Office Viceminister of Environment, shramirez@minae.go.cr  Tel. 8834-8083

Raúl Arce-Contreras, Humane Society International, rcontreras@humanesociety.org, +1 240-620-3263   

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