Update Letter from Estela
March 20, 2016
Journey North

March 20, 2016

Dear friends,

I visited El Rosario Sanctuary today after having let this week pass in order to give time for sleet and snow to melt and for the colony at the sanctuary to be open to visitors. I wanted to get a most accurate as possible impression of the situation of the after the winter storm hitting us March 8-9.

After a rather cloudy and cold week, the weekend has been the same. This is unusual for this time of March.  In former years, temperatures raise so quickly that monarchs feel obliged to leave because it’s getting too warm for them.

As I started my way up to the sanctuary seldom would a monarch be seen flying around.  The iced burned-out canopy alongside the path, and few wild blooming flowers remaining, made the view far from its normal green, colorful and alive.

The rest of the view around is exactly the same as one week ago: The huge fallen trees and roots of trees exposed to the view of all on the pathway, seem to be waiting for being officially evaluated and counted by the corresponding official entities/authorities.

Once passing by "Llano de los Conejos", I felt so happy to see that the rope banning visitors to trespass into the forest area one week ago, --where the colony had been located along the season--, had disappeared. I sped up my pace.  

Not so far ahead the rope had been moved in only 60-70 meters inside the very forest edge, banning all possibility to go further into. All visitors arriving to the rather small area were welcomed by a couple of forest guards telling us:

“It’s not possible to go further into the site where the monarch colony was during the storm because there is a carpet of dead monarchs affected by the weather contingence last week.  It is officially forbidden to walk over them in order to reach the actual site where the core of the sanctuary was."

All around, dead monarchs covered the ground most evidently killed by the events 12 days ago.  Here they were more dense, there more scarce, and even some clean spots in between. Seldom could a live monarch be seen moving among the many dead hundreds surrounding it.  

Not one big and healthy cluster could be seen around. Very tiny clusters were in around 6-10 trees in the area. Because of the way monarchs clung together in the little clusters, one could think they might be not alive anymore.

I left the area choosing not to make any judgment about the possible mortality rates. Certainly that shall be up to the official corresponding entities to give the last word about the state of affaires on the Colony's survival /death percentage.

It is now difficult to say when the possible final leave of Monarchs could happen, and be declared, if visible at all. Let’s hope that the coming days show signs of some more evidences in order to get some more certainties on the surviving percentage.

Meanwhile, let's keep faith at every moment.

Estela Romero
Angangueo, Michoacán, México
March 20, 2016

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