Published: Friday 15 March 2002

-- According to Worldwide Fund for Nature (wwf), the wiping out of millions of monarch butterflies in central Mexico in January 2002 may affect their migrations next year. "Most probably the population will fall," wwf Mexico director Juan Bezaury Creel said. "This is not about the extinction of the species, although we cannot know for sure what is going to happen." The wwf said in a statement that 250 million monarch butterflies may have been killed by a cold front that swept across central Michoacan state recently. Millions of the butterflies make the journey each year from Canada to the Monarch Butterfly Reserve in Michoacan, Mexico, a hilly region carpeted in pine trees. Lincoln Brower, a specialist in monarch butterflies, said in the wwf statement that in his 25 years of studying the colourful insects, "this was the worst episode of butterfly mortality". Other than the poor weather, Mexico's 'monarchs', who arrive in November and depart in March, have been affected by illegal deforestation in the area.

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