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End Illegal Wildlife Trade in Costa Rica

  • darkblurbg
    End IIlegal Wildlife Trade in Costa Rica
    Studies show that almost 25% of Costa
    Rican's have wildlife in their homes.
  • darkblurbg
    Wildlife Aren't Pets
    The illegal wildlife trade is now the fourth most
    lucrative transnational crime after drugs, arms and
    human trafficking.
  • darkblurbg
    Help Save The Wildlife Of Costa Rica
    Support iRescue® in our mission to end
    the illegal wildlife trade in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica’s Bold, New Law Protecting Wildlife

In January 2013, Costa Rica voted into law a ban on sport hunting along with the capture and confinement of wildlife was also included in the wildlife protection bill.

Costa Rica's illegal wildlife trade is an environmental crisis.

Support iRescue and our mission to help end these crimes against nature.

With New Laws, Come New Challenges

Costa Rica is leading the way with its initiatives to protect its wildlife but with the new laws, comes new challenges. Wildlife that are confiscated from offenders now need rescue, rehabilitation, release or retirement.

These animal services are outside the scope of the Costa Rica government’s ability to fund and manage. As a result, private funding and resources are needed to build, operate and expand the wildlife care center facilities in order to meet the growing demand of confiscated animals. Without the proper care facilities for the confiscated animals, there is no ability for Costa Rica to enforce its laws and thus the law is useless.

iRescue works year-round to encourage policy-makers to improve
and enforce laws and regulations in order to reduce the trade of wildlife.

Get the Facts about the Wildlife Trade

Every year, billions of animals are inhumanely captured and killed to provide for your entertainment, and to make products for you to buy in Costa Rica and around the world. It’s called the international wildlife trade, and you can help stop it by avoiding products and experiences that come from these abused animals.


Billion in revenue generated annually


Million Sharks killed annually


Elephants estimated killed annually


Percent increase Rhino poaching 2007 - 2014

Coral Souvenirs

Humane and Environmental Issues:
Over harvesting of coral destroys reefs, increases erosion, and decimates animal habitat.

Legalities and Safety Issues:
The aquarium and coral trade goes largely unregulated.

What You Can Do:
Don’t buy jewelry or home décor made of dead coral, seahorses, or other marine life.


Humane and Environmental Issues:
Fur-bearing animals are painfully trapped in the wild to make coats and other clothing items.

Legalities and Safety Issues:
Even where trapping and the sale of fur are illegal, animals are poached, and their fur is mislabeled, deceiving consumers who think they’re buying faux. The sale of cat and dog fur is now illegal in the U.S. and the European Union, but it can still be sold in other countries, mislabeled as gae wolf, sobaki, or Asian jackal for dog products and wildcat, goyangi, and katzenfelle for cat products.

What You Can Do:
Don’t buy fur and learn how to avoid it in the marketplace.

Leather and Skins

Humane and Environmental Issues:
Elephants, lizards, kangaroos, snakes—even sharks, rays, and sea turtles—are all caught in the wild and illegally traded or farmed in inhumane conditions to make your watch band, shoes, or bag. And they might not be labeled as coming from those animals.

Legalities and Safety Issues:
Depending on the country and the animal the product is derived from, it could be illegal.

What You Can Do:
Buyer beware, even in places where there are laws against selling products from endangered species. Ask lots of questions, and when in doubt, don’t buy.

Live Animals

Humane and Environmental Issues:
Some of the millions of animals entering the wildlife trade every year are marketed to tourists as exotic pets. Most suffer enormously in capture and transport, a large percentage of them die, and those left behind face a damaged ecosystem.

Legalities and Safety Issues:
Some wildlife marketed as exotic pets may have been illegally captured. It also may be illegal to import certain animals to your home country.

What You Can Do:
Don’t be tempted to buy one of these wild animals as a pet, even if you want to “save” him. Not only might it be illegal to import him to your home country, but he’ll just be replaced with another wild animal, and the cycle will continue.

Photos with Wildlife

Humane and Environmental Issues:
We’ve all seen them—local entrepreneurs with mini, street-side photo booths. For $5 you can get your picture taken with a parrot, monkey, or even large cat. What you don’t see is that often these animals are taken from the wild (after their parents are killed), over-handled, inhumanely treated, and lack proper care. Many are abandoned when they get sick or old.

What You Can Do:
Don't have your picture taken with wild animals. Speak up to restaurant owners, your tour guide, or another appropriate official. Support establishments like accredited rescue centers that offer humane alternatives to animals confiscated from the illegal pet or wildlife trade.

Roadside Zoos

Humane and Environmental Issues:
All over the world, animals are displayed in sub-standard zoo-like establishments. Many of them have been ripped from their habitats and trained to do unnatural tricks for tourists. These animals are often subjected to improper housing and care and receive little if any veterinary attention.

Legalities and Safety Issues:
Most all these animals may have been illegally captured and are being held against their will.

What You Can Do:
Speak up. Let your tour operator know you object to roadside zoos, encourage your travel companions to do the same. Support establishments like accredited rescue centers that offer humane alternatives to animals confiscated from the illegal pet or wildlife trade.

Sea Turtle Meat

Humane and Environmental Issues:
In some Caribbean nations, killing sea turtles for food is legal, and the meat may be sold in local restaurants. To keep the meat fresh, fishermen catch the turtles and lie them on their backs on dry land, keeping them alive but immobile, until they are ready to harvest their meat. The turtles suffer immeasurably.

What You Can Do:
Stay away from facilities that slaughter sea turtle and those that exploit sea turtles for tourist dollars instead of focusing on education and the rehabilitation of sea turtles in the wild.

Sea Turtle Shell

Humane and Environmental Issues:
For centuries, hawksbill sea turtles were killed for their beautiful mottled "tortoise" shells, which were used to make jewelry, decorative combs and hairpins, forks and spoons, and statuettes.

Legalities and Safety Issues:
Hawksbill sea turtles are fully protected from international trade by CITES, but poaching and sale of hawksbill shell products in tourist markets worldwide is still a problem.

What You Can Do:
Avoid purchasing products made from hawksbill or any turtle shell, as these are often made at the expense of poaching turtles illegally.

Shark Fin Soup

Humane and Environmental Issues:
Tens of millions of sharks are annually hunted to meet the demand for shark fin soup. Now bannedi n several places, “finning” involves slicing the fins off a shark and throwing the still-alive body back in the water to drown.

Legalities and Safety Issues:
Like other large fish, high levels of mercury can be found in shark meat.

What You Can Do:
When dining out, be sure to choose foods that do not support inhumane practices of any kind, including shark finning.

Shark Liver Oil, Cartilage/Skin

Humane and Environmental Issues:
Shark’s liver oil, cartilage and skin are used in cosmetics (ew), medicines, health supplements, and traditional food products. Shark skin is turned into leather furniture, book bindings, shoes, watch bands and handbags.

What You Can Do:
Check the label on accessories, cosmetics, and supplements for shark skin or shark liver oil so you can avoid those products.

Shark Teeth

Humane and Environmental Issues:
Another one of those items that might seem really cool in a tourist shop (especially to a kid), but the teeth most likely came from a shark slaughtered with no regard for the health of the ocean ecosystem.

What You Can Do:
Avoid buying shark teeth jewelry and other products.