COSTA RICA NEWS — The difficult economic situation affecting the Southern Zone of the country is causing some residents of the Osa Peninsula – especially Puerto Jimenez – to enter the Corcovado national park to extract gold from the rivers illegally, said the head of Control y Protección del Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación (SINAC) in Osa, Carlos Madriz.
This has led to the SINAC and the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía (MINAE) – ministry of Environment and Energy – to increase the number of park rangers and inspections in the Corcovado to combat the illegal activity.
Starting this week and until the end of the year, the number of rangers in the park will be 35, ten more than usual.
Rangers report that they find on average 12 “champas” (huts) per month in the area of the source of the rivers in the Corcovado. The reports say the huts are rustic, made of wooden poles and plastic used as shelter by the “oreros” (gold miners) extracting precious metals in the restricted area.
Authorities say they have not found any of the gold extracted, hiding the gold int he woods, nor many to detain, most fleeing when they hear noise of the approach of the park rangers.
According to the Centro de Control de Protección de Osa (Osca Control Monitoring Center), between January 2013 and to date, authorities have filed 42 complaints and detained 76 people for violation of the Código Minero (Mining Code). A total of 15 of the complaints have made it to Court, with only 5 resulted in convictions, that calls fo a prison term not exceeding three months. The rest are in the hands of the prosecutor’s office in Golfito.