Costa Rica — With the approach of Costa Ricas driest time of the year, propaganda to prevent forest fires has begun flying. Spearheaded by Costa Ricas own version of Smokey Bear, Toño the Pizote, the Summer Without Forest Fires campaign launched on Wednesday.
In the absence of American Black Bears like Smokey, Costa Rica selected the raccoon-like pizote, or coati, as the official forest fire spokescreature in 1988 due to the animals habit of shrieking to warn other animals during a fire. Toño has his own Twitter, Facebook and this song written by members of the National System of Conservation Areas band:
The Environment Ministry and the National Commission of Forest Fires (CONIFOR) hope to educate the public about fire prevention with the campaign, using the tagline Heaven is Burning. According to data from the Environment Ministry, 99 percent of all forest fires in Costa Rica are caused by human carelessness.
CONIFOR has 937 firefighters distributed throughout the country for March and April, traditionally the two worst months for forest fires. So far this year 14.9 hectares of land have burned in forest fires, according to CONIFOR.
Costa Ricas own Toño the Pizote. (Courtesy of MINAE)