An incomparable natural spectacle is the flight of the monarch butterfly among the trees and plants of the common El Rosario, municipality of Ocampo in Michoacán. It is a unique experience walk among these small insects of less than half a gram and barely 11 centimeters that flutter, enjoy the weather and reproduce.
Going to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve means being in just a small place of the 56,000 hectares where these insects come to rest after the incredible migration phenomenon they undertake from Canada and the United States to spend the winter in Mexican lands.
Mr. Paulino Guzmán González, as a guide in one of the monarch butterfly colonies opened to the public in 1982, in Ocampo, says that visitors from all over the world come to see this extraordinary site, inscribed in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List for Outstanding Universal Value that deserves protection for the benefit of all mankind.
“This year approximately 50 million monarch butterflies arrived, it is important to make tourism see that they must take care of them, not catch them or take them away dead because for them it is like a cemetery to which the new butterflies will return. They are born in Canada, they make their journey at the beginning of September and it takes them two months to get to Mexico, so it is very important to take care of them because they travel 4,500 kilometers, they spend five months here from November to March and then they return to the north of the continent”.
In the heat, butterflies eat and enjoy the forest, so it is a privilege to see them in this habitat at 3,250 meters above sea level. At night they gather in the oyamel pines to protect themselves.
“Because of the extraordinary phenomenon, from November to date more than 85,000 people have visited this reserve of El Rosario, of about 845 hectares.”
The guide comments that the forest is preserved because every year the core zone is reforested, so he would not talk about the danger of extinction. He says that the branches of the oyameles serve as a protective shield for the butterflies since when it rains or it is windy they take shelter there.
“The monarch is distinguished by its life cycle, which is longer than that of common butterflies, it is seven and nine months.”
The tour of the circuit uphill lasts approximately two hours, although there are steps to be able to climb at a slow pace, without rushing, enjoying the wonderful landscape. There are also benches along the way to rest, get some air, hydrate and move on.
The recommendations for visiting the area and taking care of the monarch butterfly are to try not to make noise, not to use a camera with a flash or drones.
The preservation of the sanctuary
Ramiro Esquivel de Jesús, secretary of the Ocampo town hall, says that a lot of work has been done on the issue of conserving the sanctuary for the monarch butterfly (danaus plexippus), which is why last year more than a million trees were planted and This year they expect to exceed the figure.
The official says that It is the largest sanctuary in the world, since this year 30 percent arrived more than butterflies
On the subject of excessive logging, Esquivel assures that the cutting of forests is not allowed and that there is strict control.
“Right now we have a problem due to the mistletoe worm infestation, we have asked the state and federal authorities to invest more resources in the monarch butterfly sanctuaries.”
This type of worm slowly dries out the trees because it penetrates the bark. The plague arrived more than five years ago and they have not been able to control it despite the efforts of the ejidatarios and the municipality.
“There is no participation on the part of the state government and the federal government to eradicate the problem of this pest, even though we have requested their support.”
Esquivel says that the urgent collaboration of environmental specialists is needed to face the situation and attack the root problem, In this way, species and forests will be better preserved, something that will contribute, in addition, to the promotion of tourism in the region.