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Is Costa Rica protecting the environment?

Mar 07

costa-rica-iguana-capture-jacoThursday March 5th I was going to surf and passed through a new park built with funds donated by the government of China. My friend(tourist from California) and I noticed that two Nicaraguans were climbing up the trees and using long bamboo poles. In the past, I have yelled at and stopped various people from capturing iguanas so they could eat them. Without getting all of you, touch feely people out there riled up about the right of these people to eat food. Please understand that most of the time their motivation is not for protein but the belief that the female iguana eggs are natural Viagra (I am sure you get the idea, this is a PG site.) These are the same people who also buy turtle eggs from people who dig them out of the sand (FYI there are no commerical farms where they cultivate turtle eggs) for the same ignorant belief. Anyhow, I saw two park security persons and asked why are they trying to capture the iguanas? He said they are removing them from the park. I was appalled and decided to come back after a few sets to take come pictures and video to show the world what was happening.

When I returned to the park I asked why they are trying to capture the iguanas. Incredibly, they answered, “Because they are eating the flowers. My first response was “why don’t you choose one of the other hundred types of flowers that jaco-employees-costa-rica-capture-iguanasiguanas do not eat that are available in Costa Rica” The employees laughed and said they did not know. After a while, a person who said he was responsible for the parks in Jaco and spoke English approached me. I asked the same question to him and he said he did not know why these types of plants were chosen and conceded that other types could have been planted which would not have caused this problem. However, he was instructed by the city council to remove them. I asked how many have been removed so far, he said 30 last week and 20 this week. I said what are you going to do when other iguanas move into this territory to forage. He said he did not know. He then offered that everyone knows that the tourists love to come to the park to take pictures and look at the iguanas that are quite large and wild.He further added that there was nothing they could do but capture them so they would not eat the plants. I said, there are other hotels in the Jaco area that live with the iguanas in peace and have no official policy of relocating them. Most of the hotels simply work with the iguanas by offering them papaya so they will not eat the flowers which is a part of their diet. Many hotels like the Best Western has found this harmonious arrangement to work very well but somehow the municipal  government has failed to learn this simple and ecological solution. He said he did not know.

The irony of these videos and this story is that Costa Rica is supposed to stand for eco-tourism and protectionism of the environment, which includes wild animals. I only know two reasons why people come visit Costa Rica; surfing and to see the natural, unblemished tropical forest and animals. However, what Costa Rica is doing here is not congruent with why tourists come here. China donated the funds to build a park in Jaco, Costa Rica called the Recreational and Ecological Park. Are the choices made by the city council to capture and remove the iguanas that have been living here all the while the city destroyed its natural habitat to make way for this park, ecological?.

My next concern was that there was nobody from the Costa Rican government there to safeguard that these iguanas were in fact being relocated as claimed by the local government. I asked two different people at the park who were involved with the capture where they were releasing them and I got two different answers. One said, Playa Hermosa and the other pointed to east and said the mountains. Before anyone writes me and asks, “Why didn’t you go with them to see if they were released?” I have two reasons; one I am a father and my child is my first priority. Second, when I arrived with the camera there was obvious tension with the police and one called in that I was taking pictures of them, I heard the radio response saying that it was my right to take pictures. Having heard the police ask the question in the first place raised my awareness of being a foreigner in Costa Rica.  In other words, do not interfere with us was the intent. Please note that everyone was pleasant and I did not feel threatened but strange things happen in this country and I knew enough to keep a low profile and keep my concerns superficial. Moreover, I was not about to take a ride with anyone to see about the actual release of these iguanas. I only took note that my previous experience is that ticos and other people in this country eat iguanas and there were many caught to go around plus the inital deception of where they were holding the iguanas. I accidentally found another can shown in the video below labled “other container.” What would be nice is that the city council or the Costa Rican government would have had some official to observe that the creatures were being treated well and that their relocation was realized in the chosen location.

Please comment if you feel that the decision of the Garabito municipality is right or wrong with this policy. For the record, I believe that this is wrong and that the correct species of plants should be planted so that the iguanas would naturally not eat them or a peace offering like…Papaya!

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3 Responses

  1. I think Iguanas are in the list of endangered species as well. I myself, have been converted to vegetarian because i sympathize those poor animals that humans kill in order for us to survive.

  2. 2

    This is bloody wrong and Costa Rica is being hypocritical about its policies. We have kangaroos that are a nuisance, they cause accidents, ruin crops, destroy fences but we at least have custodians that protect and cull the population for their own benefit but not because we have planted the wrong flowers.

    nice site mate!

  3. 3
    Kyle S. 

    Typical Costa Rican BS

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