Homero Gómez González took a circuitous path to becoming an advocate for butterflies. After strongly opposing the creation of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, he became one of its most enthusiastic promoters, as well as an advocate for local forest conservation and the sustainable development of communities in and around the town of El Rosario in the state of Michoacán, Mexico.
On Jan. 13, when Gómez’s family reported his disappearance, the 260 members of the land collective he belonged to in El Rosario organized themselves to find their partner. Two weeks later, on Jan. 29, his body was found in an agricultural well. His death outraged his family, fellow collective members and everyone who knew his work as a defender of the sacred fir, or oyamel (Abies religiosa) forests and the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).