Hunting and Wildlife Trade in the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor, Costa Rica: Species, Motivations, and Governance

Brittany Maguire, 2017
Vol. 23 No. 3 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)


This study explores hunting and wildlife trade in Costa Rica, with a geographical focus on the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor (ASBC). I conducted semi-structured interviews with 38 individuals regarding: a) the nature of hunting and wildlife trade, b) enforcement of the new Wildlife Conservation Law, and c) opinions about hunting, hunting laws, and conservation. Participants included hunters, ex-hunters, and concerned residents in the ASBC, along with wildlife professionals from protected areas, the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), wildlife centres, and environmental non-governmental organizations. Hunting has declined due to decreased dependence on hunting for subsistence, increased awareness, local protection, and law enforcement. Nevertheless, hunting continues in the region. The main motivation for hunting appears to be sport; however, participants in this study believed that there are various other overlapping motivations, including: for bushmeat, to capture wildlife for pets, for profit from selling bushmeat or captured animals, for subsistence, out of tradition, and in response to conflict with wildlife. The species hunted most often include: white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), paca (Agouti paca), collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu), agouti (Dasyprocta punctata), and tapir (Tapirus bairdii). Birds are captured for use as pets, principally the black-faced solitaire (Myadetes melanops). Recommendations include improved public communication from MINAE, increased enforcement of the Wildlife Conservation Law, and environmental education.