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March 24, 2013

Saving the Monarchs

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Every year, groups of Monarch butterflies migrate from the United States and Canada to a few unique areas in Mexico for a winter vacation in the warm forests there. What’s most remarkable is about this journey is the fact that the life span of a Monarch butterfly is far less than a year — and is normally only two to six weeks long.

The butterflies that make the migration, however, live for around eight months, and since they only make the trip once, it means that there are no other Monarchs with them that know the way when they head for their winter vacation.

However, because the forests where the butterflies travel each year are being threatened by deforestation, the Monarchs ancient journey may soon come to an end — along with a vital economic resource for the people that live in the area — tourism.

Find out more about the Monarchs in the reports below, get an update on their situation now and a close look at the butterflies in the slideshow. You can also catch some behind the scenes moments from our shoot in Mexico in 2011.

 

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In this Nov. 25, 2007 file photo a couple of monarch butterflies perch on a tree at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in the central Mexican town of Cerro Prieto.

On Monday Feb. 14, 2011, the conservation group World Wildlife Federation Mexico released a report stating that there is a partial recovery in the annual winter migration of Monarch butterflies to Mexico following a devastating 75 percent drop last year. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar, file)

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In this Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009 file photo Monarch butterflies gather on a tree branch at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve near the town of Chincua, Mexico. (AP Photo / Marco Ugarte, file)

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In this Feb. 26, 2009 file photo a Monarch butterfly perches on a tree branch as another takes flight at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, near the town of Chincua, Mexico. (AP Photo / Marco Ugarte, file)

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In this photo taken Nov. 5, 2010, pine seedlings grow at a reforestation project in San Juan Xoconusco, Mexico, part of the wintering grounds of the Monarch butterfly in the mountains west of Mexico City.

The Monarch butterfly reserve in the mountains west of Mexico City is a link between developed and developing nations, the butterflies migrate to Mexico from the United States and Canada, and its has benefited from international help, like payments to communities to preserve trees and alternative income projects that helped cut the deforestation rate here by about 95 percent. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

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In this photo taken Nov. 5, 2010, Javier Bueno Mercado, a community forest guardian, looks up at the forest in San Juan Xoconusco, Mexico, part of the wintering grounds of the Monarch butterfly in the mountains west of Mexico City. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

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In this photo taken Nov. 5, 2010, Felix Solis Martinez, a leader of communal farmlands, takes a break as he lies down at a valley the forest of San Juan Xoconusco, Mexico, part of the wintering grounds of the Monarch butterfly in the mountains west of Mexico City. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

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New threats to the species have led to fewer butterflies again this year.

Steven Fabian investigates what’s threatening one of the world’s most beautiful mysteries.

Steven Fabian gives it a try.

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