Letter From Pato Moreno: Who Should Benefit from Butterfly Tourism?


Published: 12/08/2021

By Pato Moreno, CEPANAF Ranger and Butterflies & Their People Supervisor 

Cerro Pelon started off the season with three monarch colonies. On December 3, the colonies in Carditos and Paraje Beteta started merging with the larger roost called El Capulin. Despite the state line shown on the map, El Capulin is considered part of the Michoacan side of the sanctuary, not to be confused with Ejido El Capulin in the State of Mexico. While the commissioner of Ejido El Capulin refused to purchase a permit for butterfly tourism on Cerro Pelon this season, the ejidos on the Michoacan side have not been allowed to purchase one, presumably because they do so much illegal logging of the core protected area.

And the logging is really bad. It makes me sad to see so many felled trees right next to the butterfly colony. We as workers feel really frustrated. But we can’t handle this problem alone: we need support from the authorities, as well as more cooperation between the ejido and indigenous community of Nicolas Romero. And people in both of those communities need other forms of employment. I’m one of four CEPANAF forest rangers on Cerro Pelon and we work closely with the six Butterflies & Their People forest guardians, but many more people are in need of work. 

Even though there is no legal entry to the sanctuary, people are visiting the colony. Most of them enter through Ejido Nicolas Romero, where they hire guides and rent horses. We know that a tree has been saved on days when we see one of the illegal loggers bringing visitors to the colony. Already with this little bit of tourism, the whir of chain saws that we were hearing on a daily basis sounds a little farther away. I really think that if Nicolas Romero were given an official entry, its residents would learn to appreciate their forest and the monarch colonies that it protects. Then we can guarantee that this wonder of nature will be around for future generations. 


Read the Spanish version of Pato Moreno’s letter»