Mexicans Fight to Save Monarch Habitat

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has pledged nearly $5 million in an effort to protect monarch butterflies through tourism.

The money will go towards development and advertising for the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. The reserve covers nearly 125,000 acres of woods and mountains that has been the winter home of the butterflies for thousands of years. Calderon intends to promote tourism to the area to help stop illegal logging.

The reserve already receives almost $37 million from the US government. Armed and armored park rangers roam the area in search of illegal logging. It has been somewhat successful recently, with a 48% drop in illegal logging this year.

Environmental experts say illegal logging threatens the delicate insects, although they are not an endangered species. Lincoln Brower, professor emeritus of zoology at the University of Florida, said: “By even taking a single tree out near the butterfly colony, you allow heat to escape from the forest, and that then jeopardizes the butterflies.”

Bower argues that while monarchs are not threatened with extinction, habitat destruction can threaten the insects’ migration. He said: “The whole migratory phenomenon, which involves two continents and over a million square miles [2.5 million square kilometers], could just go down the drain.”

The monarch butterfly migration has been described as a natural wonder. Butterflies fly south from the US and Canada sometime in September and return to Mexico, sometimes to the specific tree they visited the year before.

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