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Mexican conservationist found dead two weeks after disappearance

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Mexico City (AFP)

A Mexican conservationist known for championing the protection of monarch butterflies was found dead two weeks after his disappearance, authorities said.

Homero Gomez, 50, who ran a sanctuary for the iconic orange and black insects, had been missing since January 14. His body was found at the bottom of a well in the western state of Michoacan, where monarch butterflies often spend the winter.

The cause of death was not immediately known.

Michoacan is home to several crime gangs and their presence has helped prompt the formation of self-defense groups in recent years.

Other conservationists in the region said Gomez's death could be linked to his opposition to illegal logging in the area.

Monarch butterflies travel up to 4,500 kilometers (3,000 miles) each year from Canada and the United States to establish colonies in the temperate oyamel and pine forests of west-central Mexico.

The butterfly (Danaus plexippus) faces threats from deforestation, the use of herbicides -- which targets the milkweed on which monarchs lay their eggs -- and climate change.

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