Homero Gómez González, a former logger who managed the El Rosario butterfly reserve in Michoacán, Mexico, vanished on 13 January, 2020. His body was found floating in a well on the following Wednesday, reportedly showing signs of torture.
Gómez was a tireless campaigner for the conservation of the monarch butterfly and the pine and fir forests where it hibernates. The sanctuary he managed opened as part of a strategy to stop illegal logging in the area, which is a key habitat for the monarch butterfly.
Rights groups said they feared that Gómez might have been targeted because of his fight against illegal logging, one of the activities that criminal gangs in the area are involved in.
Gómez was last seen in person attending a meeting in the village of El Soldado on the afternoon of 13 January, and his family reported him missing the next day. Relatives told local media the conservationist had received threats from an organised crime gang.
Dedicated to the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve was established in 2006, and two years later inscribed on the World Heritage List because it is home to a natural phenomenon of exceptional beauty and aesthetic importance.
Millions of the butterflies make a 2,000-mile (3,220km) journey each year from Canada to pass the winter in central Mexico’s warmer weather. But the forests and the monarchs are threatened by climate change and the incursion of illegal loggers and avocado farmers.