Iconic monarch butterflies were facing extremely high risk of extinction but now they are making a big comeback.
Monarch butterflies were facing threat of extinction with almost 90% of their population disappeared over the past two decades or so.
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According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s latest report, the iconic black and orange butterfly has made a resounding comeback in the forests of Mexico this year. Their numbers are three and a half times greater than last winter and now they have covered almost 10 acres of forest.
The beautiful butterfly flies across the United States to Canada and back to Mexico where they spend their winter. Each year, their population is estimated by the total area they occupy in the winters.
Last December, monarchs covered 10 acres compared to 2.8 acres in 2014 and a record low of 1.66 acres in 2013.
This gives reason for hope but monarchs are still struggling. Their numbers are not as high as they were 20 years ago, when their population used to cover up to 44 acres.
“The news is good, but at the same time we shouldn’t let our guard down,” said Omar Vidal, director of the World Wildlife Fund in Mexico. “Now more than ever, Mexico, the United States and Canada should increase their conservation efforts to protect and restore the habitat of this butterfly along its migratory route.”
Each winter, monarchs cluster together and take shelter in the forested mountains of Mexico. These forests provide much needed refuge as their temperature are mild enough and protect the butterflies from the snow, rain, cold as well as predators. But they reach Mexico after a two month long migration from the US and southern Canada where the loss of habitat have contributed to the decline of this incredible insect.
Currently, the United States is working on protecting the habitat of monarch butterflies. They are reintroducing milkweed on about 1,160 square miles within five years. Milkweed is a plant where butterfly feed and lay its eggs on but deforestation and pest outbreaks have damaged those plants enormously.
In Mexico, illegal logging is a big problem. Authorities are making efforts to reduce tree cutting in a particular sensitive area of the reserve. U.S., Canada and Mexico are coordinating to achieve the ultimate goal of 225 million monarchs by 2020.
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The increase in monarchs’ population encouraging and head of Mexico’s protected natural areas Alejandro del Mazo says. “This is a motivation for us to continue building bridges between our three countries, not walls."