It’s been an incredible monarch butterfly season here in Mexico, and we have a lot to be grateful for. High up on that gratitude list is our appreciation for your support for the Butterflies & Their People Project. Thanks to you, we have been able to continue to employ four full-time forest guardians in the Cerro Pelón Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. And we’re very happy to report that the forest, the monarch migration and four families are all doing better this year than they were last year.
The Forest Cerro Pelón’s butterfly forest is in significantly better shape than when we started this project. Illegal logging fell by 81% over the last year. More than 100 trees were cut in the core protected area in 2017. In contrast, we ended 2018 with a total of 19 trees taken.
Nineteen is still too many. But it’s a huge improvement over business as usual of 100-200 trees per year, and proves our point that unarmed, paid presence reduces clandestine logging.
The Butterflies In case you missed the news, the eastern monarch population rebounded in a big way this season. Officially there was a 144% increase in the overwintering population, or the best numbers in 12 years. Unofficially, we saw at least a 200% increase, or the best in two decades.
On Cerro Pelón, the population was so large that the colony split into two distinct locations, with one in Michoacán and the other on the State of Mexico side of the sanctuary. The four arborists took turns providing protection at both sites, where did crowd control, picked up trash and kept visitors from getting too close to the clusters.
The People The arborists and their families want you to know how much they appreciate their newfound financial security. Thanks to you, their menfolk no longer need to migrate for work. Oswaldo used his paycheck to invest in a flock of sheep. Jose Carmen built a second floor on his house to shelter his growing family. Leonel and his wife and baby shared a tiny shack with a wood-burning stove; now he’s broken ground on a second room for sleeping. And Francisco, an elementary school graduate, sent his oldest daughter off to college this fall. As his wife Veronica told us, this job has been, “una ayudota,” or, “a very big help.”
We are a tiny non-profit entirely supported by individual donors. All the funds we receive go straight to paying Oswaldo, Jose Carmen, Leonel and Francisco’s biweekly salaries and for essential supplies like feed for their horses. Our absence of administrative overhead means that we are sometimes remiss about getting around to expressing our gratitude. But we wanted you to know that your donation has made a difference and is deeply appreciated—by both the butterflies and their people!