Monarch Butterfly Migration Update: February 21, 2001
Today's Report Includes:
Field Notes from the Mexican Monarch Sanctuaries
Eligio Garcia Observes an Important Change
Nearly every Friday since mid-December, Eligio has visited to the Sierra Chincua. On February 16th, he observed an important change for the first time this season, "ya observe un apareamiento," he says.
This is a change he's been watching for. It signals that the monarchs are preparing to produce the next generation.
Field Notes from Dr. Bill Calvert
"Greetings from Mexico. On Sunday we climbed the dusty trail to the top of Cerro Herrada, the seldom visited colony to the east of Valle de Bravo. The ascent takes about one hour and is very steep. The butterflies were bunched in area about 10 meters by 20 meters, on the east face of the Cerro. Our guide said the population is very small this year because farmers in the north were spaying corn with poisons. The butterflies were eating corn and dying at the rate of 20% per day.
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"I'll be back in touch next week, after we've visited the major monarch colonies surrounding Angangueo."
Bill Calvert (from a phone booth in Michoacan)
Life in Sanctuary Region
A Day in the Life of a Mexican Student
A Day in the Life of a Mexican Teacher
As you read today's vignettes about life in the sanctuary region, think about Dr. Calvert's remarks, look for examples, and then tell us your thoughts:
Headline News: Mexico to Crack Down on Illegal Logging
All last week, newspapers throughout Mexico announced a national campaign to crack down on illegal logging. A new "superpolicia," made up of federal police and the army, will be created. The monarch reserve is one of four high-priority areas targeted for this new mano duro (strong handed) approach. Authorities estimate an annual loss of 17 million cubic meters of forest, instead of the 9 million that is authorized for cutting. Up until this time, only 200 forest inspectors were responsible to combat illegal logging across the entire country.
Deforestation Maps Show Significant Loss of the Monarch's Forest
These maps show the changes in the monarch forest between 1971 and 1999. "What in 1971 was nearly continuous high quality forest is now a series of islands with large spaces of degraded forest between them," say two of the authors, Dr. Lincoln Brower and Monica Missrie/World Wildlife Fund-Mexico.
The World Wildlife Fund report explains, "Causes for this forest degradation are multiple, including excessive and illegal commercial logging, wood harvesting for domestic use, forest conversion to agriculture, and damage from periodic fires. These multiple negative effects on the oyamel forest ecosystem are incompatible with the needs of the monarch butterfly and, over the long term, those of the local inhabitants as well."
Mexican Students Make Classroom Sanctuaries
for the Symbolic Monarchs
The teachers want the students to understand that the forest is their heritage--that it must be protected for their own needs, as well as for the needs of the monarchs. They decided to have the students create "forest sanctuaries" in their classrooms for the Symbolic Monarchs. All winter long, each student can keep an eye on his own butterfly and then send the butterfly back north in the spring. The teachers hope this will be a year-long reminder of the importance of forest conservation.
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The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on February 28, 2001.