Butterflies make partial comeback in Mexico

“Monarch butterflies, with their striking black-and-orange coloring, have made a partial recovery in numbers of butterflies migrating from the U.S. and Canada to Mexico this year, after historic lows last year.

Omar Vidal, director of the conservation group World Wildlife Fund Mexico, says the increase this year — 9.9 acres of colonies of butterflies, more than double of the 4.7 acres of last year — is positive news,” reports the Associated Press.

“These figures are encouraging, compared to last year, because they show a trend toward recovery,” Vidal said.

Lincoln Brower, an expert on monarch butterflies and a zoology professor at the University of Florida, says while this year’s recovery is good news, each time the butterflies “recover,” they still are lower than in the past.

“What is ominous is that all of the last seven years have been below average,” he said.

Rosendo Caro, director of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, says the number of tourists has fallen as much as 50% in recent years, down from as many as 110,000. Drug gangs in Michoacan, where the reserve is located, have prompted travel warnings about the area, though no violence has occurred within the 193,000-acre reserve.

Read the full article from Associated Press http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/L/LT_MEXICO_MONARCH_BUTTERFLIES?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-02-14-14-54-42

Update on Monarch Butterfly Tourists in Mexico

According to Wisconsin Public Radio on February 9, tourism is down at and near the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Michoacan, Mexico. The drug wars led by La Familia and beheading of opponent drug gang members is keeping tourists away. Even though the Sanctuary is some distance from the drug wars, tourists do not want to go to a country in the middle of a drug war. 

Millions of monarch butterflies are now at the Sanctuary hanging from the Oyamel fir trees. Towards March they will begin their journey back to the United States on their way to Canada.

Winter 2010 destroyed El Roserio a town near the Sanctuary.  Roads and bridges were wiped out and homes were lost to floods and mudslides. The people are dependent upon tourism who come to see the monarch butterfly at the Mexican Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. A resident interviewed said that the people could depend on working five months a year because of tourism. 13,000 people used to live there but many residents are leaving to try to find work in other parts. The population in 2011 is down to 10,000. The people were already poor and a setback from a weakened tourist trade is unraveling into further hardship on the people. 

Mexican President Calderon wants to make 2011 the Year of Tourism. Between the mudslides and floods at the Sanctuary, that killed at least 50 percent of the wintering monarchs, in 2010 and the continuing drug wars in 2011, tourists are backing off and the nearby towns, that support the tourist industry, are being impacted economically by lack of tourists.