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Monarch population declines

Millions of monarch butterflies leave their home in the US and Canada to reach Mexico every fall. With their tiny yet mighty wings, they make the incredible 2,500 miles to get to the warmer climate. 


Watching this spectacle of thousands of butterflies moving in unison is a truly breathtaking experience. The butterflies then spend the winter months hibernating in the Mexican reserve. They then travel back north in the spring.  

“The monarch’s migratory pattern is the most highly evolved of any known species of their kind.” said the World Wildlife Organization in an article titled “The great monarch migration.”


A new risk report shows a troubling population decline in monarch butterflies. “In just one year, the presence of monarch butterflies in their wintering grounds dropped 22%, from 7 acres to nearly 5.5. acres. This is part of a mostly downward trend over the past 25 years—when monarchs once covered more than 45 acres of forest.” said the WWF in the report.


To be successful in their journey, the butterflies require robust forests. Today they are fighting against climate change, dwindling forests and reduction of breeding habitat in the US due to herbicide application. 


“Illegal logging has been a major threat to the pine and fir forests where the butterflies gather in clumps to keep warm. But experts said that this year, more than half the tree loss was due to removal of dead or sick trees affected by fires, storms or pests.” said Gloria Tavera, director of conservation at  Mexico's Commission for National Protected Areas.


The monarch butterflies aren’t the only ones suffering from forest degradation and climate change. By destroying the reserve, freshwater supplies are cut for five million people in Mexico City. They are deprived of a critical resource. The reserve also suffers from biodiversity loss, according to the WWF.


The wildlife authorities are desperate and are seeking help from the Mexican, US and Canadian governments.  

“It is not just about conserving a species, it’s also about conserving a unique migratory phenomenon in nature,” said WWF-Mexico’s General Director Jorge Rickards. “Monarchs contribute to healthy and diverse terrestrial ecosystems across North America as they carry pollen from one plant to another. With 80% of agricultural food production depending on pollinators like monarchs, when people help the species, we are also helping ourselves.”


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