Another Kind of Migration: A Visit to Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

There has been plenty of news coverage lately about the state of foreign relations between Mexico and the United States. But there is one issue — or rather, species — that is continuing to bring the countries together: monarch butterflies.

This week, I’m taking a break from my regular focus on refugee narratives, policy, and history to bring you a story about a different kind of migration. Each year, tens or even hundreds of millions of monarchs fly from North American to central Mexico. They come to wait out the cold months in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. The journey they make is a challenging one, and is made all the more difficult by pollution, logging, and overtourism — all of which threaten the Biosphere Reserve that they rely on. In response, the governments of Mexico, the United States, and Canada are working together to preserve the monarch’s migration route.

As a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storyteller, I have not only been able to research a topic I care deeply about, but I have also had the opportunity to explore the country of Mexico. I was lucky to visit the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve this weekend: to watch and photograph as the butterflies woke from hibernation and began their preparations for transnational migration once again.

Click the video below for more.

Destry Maria Sibley is a freelance writer, media producer, and educator. As a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow, she is traveling throughout Mexico to collect the stories of Los Niños de Morelia, a group of child refugees who fled the Spanish Civil War and settled in Mexico in 1937. Destry's grandmother was among this group of children, and it is her personal experience of flight, exile, and assimilation that has motivated Destry to learn more about the lives of child refugees -- historically and in the present.

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