Butterfly Conservation are shocked and deeply saddened at the recent murders of Mexican butterfly activists Homero Gómez González and Raúl Hernández Romero. It seems very clear now that these men were killed while trying to protect conservation-designated land in the face of increased logging and the encroachment of illegal farms.
The El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Reserve which was managed by Homero Gomez and which these men worked to protect is a place teeming with life and beauty. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, because the overwintering concentration of butterflies there was deemed "a superlative natural phenomenon".
The men’s deaths follow a worrying trend in Mexico of attacks against environmental defenders and are, in the first instance, a terrible loss for their families. We send them our condolences and our thanks for the fight these brave men put up to protect butterflies in Mexico
As an organisation which fights to protect both butterflies and moths, we at Butterfly Conservation know that nature has no borders and that actions in other countries to ignore and suppress conservation efforts will have far-reaching consequences elsewhere.
Our international work enables us to work with butterfly and moth scientists and activists around the world as we all seek to protect and conserve nature. It is abhorrent to us that peaceful conservationists, doing work that benefits the entire planet should be killed because their work interferes with greedy and ill-thought-out economic plans. Homero Gomez himself knew that the way to economic and environmental sustainability for his area was through working with nature and attracting tourism to it not working destructively against it.
Because nature knows no borders, because we know that we as a planet are in extreme danger due to our biodiversity crisis, we call on the UK government to take steps to address these ongoing killings in those parts of the world where conservationists are in real danger. In 2020 the UN Biodiversity Conference will take place in China. We ask that at this Conference and beyond the UK be a clear voice calling for the protection of environmental activists around the world with enforceable consequences for those who do not do so.
Who will protect the protectors, if not us?