Scientists now consider the migrate endangered monarch butterfly. The population of the beloved orange and black insect has dropped rapidly in recent years.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has added the migratory monarch to its “red list” of endangered organisms. They said he was “in danger”. That means it’s one step away from extinction. When a species is extinct, there are no more living members.
Stuart Pimm is an ecologist at Duke University in North Carolina. He was not involved in the new listing. He said, “It’s just a devastating decline. It is one of the most recognizable butterflies in the world.
The IUCN estimates that the monarch butterfly population in North America has dropped by 22-72% in 10 years, depending on the method of measurement.
Nick Haddad is a conservation biologist at Michigan State University. He said: “What worries us is the rate of decline. It’s very easy to imagine how quickly this butterfly could become even more endangered. In peril means to be in a dangerous situation.
Haddad estimates that the monarch butterfly population he studies in the eastern United States has declined by 85 to 95 percent since the 1990s.
In North America, millions of monarch butterflies complete the longest migration of any insect species known to scientists. Animals migrate when they move from one place to another depending on the season.
Monarch butterflies spend the winter in the mountains of central Mexico. Then they begin their journey north. They reproduce several times along the way, over thousands of kilometers. Young butterflies that reach southern Canada then begin the return journey to Mexico in late summer.
A small group of butterflies spend their winters on the California coast, then fly in the spring and summer through several states west of the Rocky Mountains. This population has seen an even steeper decline than the eastern monarchs, although there has been a small increase last winter.
Emma Pelton is part of the non-profit Xerces Society, which studies western butterflies. She said there were several reasons for the loss of the butterflies. One reason is that insects have lost their habitat, or natural home, because people are removing or damaging the trees and plants they like to live on. Another is increased agricultural use of herbicides (chemicals that kill plants) and pesticides (chemicals that kill insects). The third reason is climate change.
“There are things people can do to help,” she said, including planting milkweed. Young butterflies in the form of the caterpillars depend on milkweed.
Non-migrating monarch butterflies from Central and South America would not be as threatened. The United States has not listed monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act. But several environmental groups think it should be listed.
The IUCN also announced new estimates of the global tiger population, which are 40% higher than the most recent estimates taken in 2015.
The new wild tiger population estimates come from better methods of counting tigers. There might even be an increase in their overall numbers, Dale Miquelle said. He is the Tiger Program Coordinator for the non-profit Wildlife Conservation Society.
Over the past 10 years, tiger populations have increased in Nepal, northern China, and possibly India. But tigers have completely disappeared from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, Miquelle said. Tigers remain on the endangered species list.
I am Faith Pirlo. And I’m Jill Robbins.
Christina Larson reported this story for The Associated Press. Jill Robbins adapted it for Learn English.
words in this story
migrate – v. moving to a different place of life (temporary in the case of animals)
devastating – adj.. very harmful or damaging
decline – not. movement towards a smaller quantity
species – not. class of plants or animals whose members have the same main characteristics and can reproduce with each other.
conservation – not. the act of saving and protecting the environment
caterpillar – nm small worm-like animal that feeds on plants and eventually turns into a butterfly
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