Butterflies, Challenges & Hope

Monarchs in the early morning. They hibernate from November until the beginning of March. With warmer temperatures, they become sexually mature, mate, and begin their northerly migration.

Just for the beauty of the photographs, this is worth a visit. But there is also an audio accompaniment, allowing you to hear the butterflies. The story of the challenge their habitat faces is, like so many other stories we encounter, painful to read. But there is hope as well:

SAVING THE BUTTERFLY FOREST

Environmental destruction and violence threaten one of the world’s most extraordinary insect migrations.

Marciano Solis Sacarias,
a landowner, working at
Las Novias del Sol,
a tree-nursery coöperative.

Every November, around the Day of the Dead, millions of monarch butterflies descend on a forest of oyamel firs in the mountains of central Mexico. The butterflies have never seen the forest before, but they know—perhaps through an inner compass—that this is where they belong. They leave Canada and the northeastern United States in late summer and fly for two months, as far as three thousand miles south and west across the continent. The journey is the most evolutionarily advanced migration of any known butterfly, perhaps of any known insect. But climate change and habitat loss, both in the forest (photographed here in February last year) and in the U.S., are fast eroding the monarchs’ numbers.

The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a partnership between the Mexican government and the World Wildlife Fund, is a hundred-and-thirty-nine-thousand-acre area, straddling the border between the states of Mexico and Michoacán, sixty miles northwest of Mexico City. The monarchs hibernate here, at an altitude of around ten thousand feet, for four months. The reserve comprises land belonging to dozens of groups, including indigenous communities and communal-land villages called ejidos. Before the reserve was founded, locals relied on logging and mining for income. Now they also get revenue from roughly a hundred and twenty thousand tourists who visit the reserve each year…

View the entire multimedia experience here.

 

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