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Second Mexican butterfly conservationist found dead

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Mexico City (AFP)

A second Mexican conservationist active in protecting monarch butterflies has been found dead within days of each other, authorities said.

The body of Raul Hernandez Romero was found on Saturday in the central-western state of Michoacan, where Homero Gomez Gonzalez was found at the bottom of a well last Wednesday, two weeks after going missing.

Hernandez Romero showed signs of "blows to different parts of his body and a head injury caused by a sharp object," the local public prosecutor said on Monday.

He had been reported missing by his wife on January 27. Gomez Gonzalez, 50, had gone missing on January 14.

Both men were active in the protection of the monarch butterfly and worked in conservation sanctuaries.

Other conservationists in the region said Gomez's death could be linked to his opposition to illegal logging in Michoacan, where monarch butterflies often spend their winter.

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

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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