Loggers in Mexico accused of wiping out millions of butterflies
To gain control over protected forestlandloggers may have deliberately wiped out some 22 million monarch butterflies. The butterflies migrate annually from Canada to Mexico during the winter. Homero Aridjishead of Group of 100an environmental lobby based in the usclaims that loggers had sprayed pesticides on the orange and black-coloured butterflies in two sanctuaries -- Cerro San Andres and Las Palomas -- in the past two weeks. The ulterior motive of the loggersthe group claimswas to regain some 550 square kilometers of forestwhich had been declared as protected by the incumbent government.
Aridijis said "There has been a massive slaughter of the butterflies. This will affect the reproduction process of the species. We cannot estimate how many butterflies will come this autumn. "
Millions of monarch butterflies migrate some 500 kilometres annually to flee the icy winter in Canada and the us for the warmer fir forests in Mexico's central Michoacan state. For five months of the year Michoacan's trees are turn flaming orange and the forest is carpeted with the delicate winged creatures. The migration has taken place for the past 100 years. The butterflies normally arrive in early November and return north to lay eggs at the end of March. In November last year the government had extended the land devoted to five sanctuaries. The move was in response to a study showing that farming and illegal logging had destroyed 44 per cent of the forest existing in 1971.
But some organizations and environmentalists claim that a recent cold wave may also be at blame for the massacre reports the website www.newscientist.com . Researchers at the World Wildlife Fund's us office say the number of dead butterflies may be about two or three million. Recent heavy snowfalls in the area could have been particularly devastating to butterflies trying to winter in the heavily logged forestshe says. A similar cold in 1996 had killed millions of Monarch butterflies. Karen Oberhauserresearcher at the University of Minnesotaadds that many of the butterflies may have already headed north on their migration and escaped the massacre.
Insect populations are known to vary wildly with changing habitat conditions. Given good breeding conditionsbutterflies are known to make up for even a ten per dip in the population within one summer season.
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