Nearby residents of Drake Bay, in the canton of Osa, Puntarenas, reported that in recent days groups of people have raided the Corcovado National Park to hunt animals and then sell their meat.

The president of the Drake Bay Rural Development Association, Karolina Fallas, expressed her outrage after learning what is happening. “It is completely unacceptable that, if we all live from tourism in this area, we lend ourselves to organize groups and destroy our nature in the midst of the crisis we are in”, said Fallas.

Fallas commented by telephone that they have names of the people who are behind this illegal activity and of those who are buying the meat that leaves Corcovado illegally. “We are going to reach the last consequences, with the people who at this moment buy meat from the tapir that they killed in Corcovado. Please, this has to stop! If we do not take care of this treasure that feeds us, we will have nothing to start working on when the pandemic passes”, she said.

Along with Fallas, the president of the Association of Natural Guides of Drake Bay, Rebeca Quirós, also denounced what is happening in the area. “Last week a boy brought people from San Vito to Corcovado twice and killed 7 pigs and several monkeys. Looking at the amount of meat they have removed, we do not know how many more animals they may have killed before”, Quirós said by phone.

Quirós said that they have called the Drake Bay police several times but they reply that they are not concerned with the illegal hunting issue, so they do not provide help. “The Drake police are not helping us either; we feel that these people who go hunting have friends with the police, in order to have them as allies”, she said.

Wild pig in Corcovado National Park

For this neighbor of Drake, the concern is greater for being an area that lives on tourism and the sighting of wild species. “Those of us who work in tourism will be affected by it. What will our clients come to see when this happens with COVID-19? Here everyone is hunting in large quantities. A few days ago, 3-4 motorcycles went down with 2 men each motorcycle and each man carrying 2 sacks of dried meat”, said Quirós.

Despite calling the police when they hear of people entering Corcovado to hunt, the president of AGUINADRA does not feel support from the authorities in the area. “Imagine the number of animals that were killed and we cannot do anything. We called the authorities and in the end they did not catch them. No one guarantees that the Osa Conservation Area and the Public Force will help us”, he concluded.

Biologists warn that hunting could increase due to lack of tourism on the coasts

As the economic crisis progresses, people could resume illegal hunting, an activity abandoned by tourism revenues, said a group of conservation biologists. “We have already had reports of killings of herds of wild pigs. (…) We are extremely concerned about the social situation. People have lost their income due to the fall in tourism”, said Marco Hidalgo, a biologist at Osa Conservación.

Esteban Brenes, biologist from the Costa Rica Wildlife organization, agreed on this, assuring that in other countries pressures on nature are already beginning to be seen due to the economic crisis. “In Africa, for example, rhino hunting increased with the decline in tourism; in Asia, too. Costa Rica is a time bomb. We do not know how long our communities are going to resist”, Brenes said.

Government is aware of this situation

The Ministry of Environment said it was aware of this threat and added that it will seek to carry out the necessary controls to stop activities. “We are fully aware of this threat and, therefore, we have reinforced the tasks of control and protection, both in Protected Wild Areas and in private forests”, said the Minister, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez.

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