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Monarch butterfly population plummets by 59% in wintering sites due to climate change, pesticides

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Experts have disclosed a substantial decline in the population of endangered monarch butterflies at their wintering sites in Mexico. The 2023-2024 season witnessed a staggering 59% drop, sounding alarm bells among conservationists.

Gloria Tavera, the conservation director at the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas, pointed to climate change as a primary culprit, emphasizing the impact of drought and high temperatures at breeding sites and along migration routes. Additionally, the use of pesticides, particularly herbicides in milkweed fields in the United States and Canada, is identified as a major contributing factor.

Gregory Mitchell, a research scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, labeled the figures as “sobering news.” Despite the grim statistics, Mitchell expressed optimism, stating, “Conservationists have the tools and we have the drive” to aid in the monarch butterfly’s recovery.

The migratory monarch butterfly, added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species in 2022, undertakes a remarkable journey of over 4,000 kilometers from Canada to Mexico for wintering. However, their habitat in Mexico faces severe threats, with logging posing a significant danger.

The tragic 2020 suspected murder of renowned butterfly conservationist Homero Gomez underscored the perils faced by those opposing illegal loggers in Mexico, further emphasizing the urgent need for conservation efforts.

As the monarch butterfly’s existence hangs in the balance, the global community is urged to take immediate action to address climate change, pesticide use, and habitat threats, ensuring the survival of this iconic species.

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