Last updateFri, 15 Jan 2021 2pm

As monarch season takes flight, conservationists turn to virtual tourism

“It got so I couldn’t go hiking without seeing one of my neighbors dragging down a tree,” monarch butterfly conservationist and eco-tourism entrepreneur Ellen Sharp, PhD, recently wrote from her home and B&B at the border of the state of Michoacan near a sanctuary for the colorful creatures.

pg9aEarly in the Covid pandemic, many natural scientists, including Sharp, a cultural anthropologist from the United States, and her husband Joel Moreno, whose father worked all his life protecting the forest near Macheros, Michoacan, hoped that the virus-related slowdown was having a positive effect on the decline of many species, and might reverse a decades-long decrease in the population of the monarch, which migrates long distances between Canada, the United States and Mexico. 

At that time, the couple and other environmentalists noted such phenomena as “the Himalayas visible from 200 kilometers away,” as Sharp pointed out, and speculated that these improvements could help animals, including butterflies. In addition, few scientists are completely sure that bringing tourists into close proximity to overwintering monarchs is good for them, so keeping tourists at home could conceivably be positive for monarchs on more than one score. 


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