Monarch butterflies are flying high in Mexican El Rosario with a population increase of 200%

Many fear for the monarch butterfly but great news is coming out of the El Rosario Sanctuary in Mexico, where the population has multiplied exponentially.

Concerns have been raised over the years regarding the decline of the monarch butterfly, which migrates south from the United States in the winter, but good news has come out of El Rosario, the biggest sanctuary in the Mexican state of Michoacán. It has been reported that the animal’s population has grown over 200% compared to last year, with the butterflies occupying a total area of 1.13 hectares.

The authorities weren’t expecting such a positive trend. Due to unfavourable meteorological phenomena, including Hurricane Patricia that affected northern Mexican states in mid-October and an unusually cold front at the beginning of November, butterflies completed their migration ten days late, on the 13th of November instead of the 3rd. Fortunately the weather obstacles didn’t stop the butterflies from carrying the movement out altogether, stated Homero Gómez González, representative of the El Rosario Sanctuary.


The most serious problem for monarch butterflies in El Rosario is environmental degradation, especially because of illegal deforestation. The only protection the sanctuary gets is thanks to neighbouring communities that try to prevent such incidents from occurring. Moreover, last year the community planted 210,000 pines and sacred firs, oyamel in Spanish, and in 2015 people voluntarily donated about 350,000 hectares of arable lands with the objective of afforesting the area. These initiatives have no hidden profit, emphasizes Gómez González, and the local authorities don’t support them much.


The main source of income in the region has become ecotourism. Last year over ten thousand people visited El Rosario, thus the resurgence of the monarch butterfly population in the sanctuary is important for the local economy. It is also vital from a conservation perspective: the threats of herbicides and bad weather conditions severely affect these “migrants”, having caused their population to reach all-time lows in the past few years.

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