The vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) or vicuna // , very rarely spelled vicugna, which is actually the name of its genus) is one of the two wild South American camelids which live in the high alpine areas of the Andes, the other being the guanaco. They were named after the eponymous town, which in turn took its name from Joaquín Vicuña, a Chilean politician of Basque origin. Vicuñas are relatives of the llama, and are now believed to be the wild ancestor of domesticated alpacas, which are raised for their coats. Vicuñas produce small amounts of extremely fine wool, which is very expensive because the animal can only be shorn every three years and has to be caught from the wild. When knitted together, the product of the vicuña's wool is very soft and warm. The Inca valued vicuñas highly for their wool, and it was against the law for anyone but royalty to wear vicuña garments; today, the vicuña is the national animal of Peru and appears in the Peruvian coat of arms.(both
Both under the rule of the Inca and today, vicuñas have been protected by law, but they were heavily hunted in the intervening period. At the time they were declared endangered in 1974, only about 6,000 animals were left. Today, the vicuña population has recovered to about 350,000,and although conservation organizations have reduced its level of threat classification, they still call for active conservation programs to protect populations from poaching, habitat loss, and other threats.
Previously the vicuña was thought not to have been domesticated, and the llama and the alpaca were both regarded as descendants of the closely related guanaco. But DNA research published in 2001 has shown the alpaca may well have vicuña parentage.Today, the vicuña is mainly wild, but the local people still perform special rituals with these creatures, including a fertility rite.
The vicuña is considered more delicate and gracile than the guanaco, and smaller. A key distinguishing element of morphology is the better-developed incisor roots for the guanaco. ft); shoulder height is from 75 to 85 cm (around 3 ft); its weight is from 35 to 65 kg (under 150 lb). It falls prey to the puma and culpeo, a South American fox.The vicuña's long, woolly coat is tawny brown on the back, whereas the hair on the throat and chest is white and quite long. The head is slightly shorter than the guanaco's and the ears are slightly longer. The length of head and body ranges from 1.45 to 1.60 m (about 5
To prevent poaching, a round-up is held every year, and all vicuñas with fur longer than 2.5 cm are shorn.
Vicuñas are native to the central Andes in South America, where found in Peru, northwestern Argentina, Bolivia, and northern Chile. A smaller, introduced population lives in central Ecuador.
Vicuñas live at altitudes of 3,200 to 4,800 m (10,500–15,700 ft). They feed in daytime on the grassy plains of the Andes Mountains, but spend the nights on the slopes. In these areas, only nutrient-poor, tough, bunch grasses and Festuca grow. The sun's rays are able to penetrate the thin atmosphere, producing relatively warm temperatures during the day; however, the temperatures drop to freezing at night. The vicuña's thick but soft coat is a special adaptation which traps layers of warm air close to its body, so it can tolerate freezing temperatures.
Chief predators include pumas and foxes.[ citation needed ]
The behavior of vicuñas is similar to that of the guanacos. They are very shy animals, and are easily aroused by intruders, due, among other things, to their extraordinary hearing. Like the guanacos, they frequently lick calcareous stones and rocks, which are rich in salt, and also drink salt water.Their diets consist mainly of low grasses which grow in clumps on the ground.
Vicuñas live in family-based groups made up of a male, five to 15 females, and their young. Each group has its own territory of about 18 km2, which can fluctuate depending on the availability of food.
Mating usually occurs in March–April, and after a gestation period of about 11 months, the female gives birth to a single fawn, which is nursed for about 10 months. The fawn becomes independent at about 12 to 18 months old. Young males form bachelor groups and the young females search for a sorority to join. This deters intraspecific competition and inbreeding.
From the period of Spanish conquest to 1964, hunting of the vicuña was unrestricted, which reduced its numbers to only 6,000 in the 1960s. As a result, the species was declared endangered in 1974, and its status prohibited the trade of vicuña wool. In Peru, during 1964–1966, the Servicio Forestal y de Caza in cooperation with the US Peace Corps, Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and the National Agrarian University of La Molina established a nature conservatory for the vicuña called the Pampa Galeras – Barbara D'Achille in Lucanas Province, Ayacucho. During that time, a game warden academy was held in Nazca, where eight men from Peru and six from Bolivia were trained to protect the vicuña from poaching. The estimated population in Peru increased from 6,000 to 75,000 with protection by game wardens. Currently, the community of Lucanas conducts a chaccu (herding, capturing, and shearing) on the reserve each year to harvest the wool, organized by the National Council for South American Camelids (CONACS).
The wool is sold on the world market for over $300 per kg, to help support the community. In Bolivia, the Ulla Ulla National Reserve was founded in 1977 partly as a sanctuary for the species. Their numbers grew to 125,000 in Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. Since this was a ready "cash crop" for community members, the countries relaxed regulations on vicuña wool in 1993, enabling its trade once again. While the population levels have recovered to a healthy level, poaching remains a constant threat, as do habitat loss and other threats. Consequently, the IUCN still supports active conservation programs to protect vicuñas, though they lowered their status to least concern.The US Fish and Wildlife Service has reclassified most populations as threatened, but still lists Ecuador's population as endangered.
The wool is popular due to its warmth, and is used for apparel such as socks, sweaters, accessories, shawls, coats, and suits, and home furnishings such as blankets and throws. Its properties come from the tiny scales on the hollow, air-filled fibres. It causes them to interlock and trap insulating air. Vicuñas have some of the finest fibers in the world, at a diameter of 12 μm. The fiber of cashmere goats is 14 to 19 μm, while angora rabbit is 8 to 12 μm and that of shahtoosh from the Tibetan antelope, or chiru, is from 9 to 12 μm.Since it is sensitive to chemical treatment, the wool is usually left in its natural color.
The vicuña only produces about 0.5 kg (1.1 lb) of wool a year, and gathering it requires a certain process. During the time of the Incas, vicuña wool was gathered by means of communal efforts called chacu, in which multitudes of people herded hundreds of thousands of vicuña into previously laid funnel traps. The animals were shorn and then released; this was only done once every four years. The vicuña was believed to be the reincarnation of a beautiful young maiden who received a coat of pure gold once she consented to the advances of an old, ugly king. Because of this, it was against the law for anyone to kill a vicuña or wear its fleece, except for Inca royalty.
At present, the Peruvian government has a labeling system that identifies all garments that have been created through a government-sanctioned chacu. This guarantees that the animal was captured, shorn alive, returned to the wild, and cannot be shorn again for another two years. The program also ensures that a large portion of the profits return to the villagers. However, annually, up to 22,500 kg of vicuña wool are exported as a result of illegal activities. Because of this, some countries have banned the importation of the wool to save the animal. There is a limited but growing trend to commercially produce wool from vicuñas in captivity, with growing herds in the Chilean Andes. Biologist Cristian Bonacic has expressed his concern about the possibility of habitat damage and the transmission of disease in the farms.
As of June 2007, prices for vicuña fabrics can range from US$1,800 to US$3,000 per yard. A vicuña wool scarf costs around US$1,500. A vicuña sport coat from the Italian tailoring house Kiton costs at least US$21,000 in 2013.
The llama is a domesticated South American camelid, widely used as a meat and pack animal by Andean cultures since the Pre-Columbian era.
Camelids are members of the biological family Camelidae, the only currently living family in the suborder Tylopoda. The extant members of this group are: dromedary camels, Bactrian camels, wild Bactrian camels, llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, and guanacos. Camelids are even-toed ungulates classified in the order Cetartiodactyla, along with pigs, whales, deer, cattle, antelope, and many others.
The guanaco is a camelid native to South America, closely related to the llama. Its name comes from the Quechua word huanaco. Young guanacos are called chulengos.
Lama is a genus containing two South American camelids, the wild guanaco and the domesticated llama. This genus is closely allied to the wild vicuña and domesticated alpaca of the genus Vicugna. Before the Spanish conquest of the Americas, llamas and alpacas were the only domesticated ungulates of the continent. They were kept not only for their value as beasts of burden, but also for their flesh, hides, and wool.
Quechua people or Quecha people, may refer to any of the indigenous people of South America who speak the Quechua languages, which originated among the indigenous people of Peru. Although most Quechua speakers are native to the country of origin, there are some significant populations living in Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Argentina.
Vicugna is a genus containing two South American camelids, the vicuña and the alpaca.
The Puna grassland ecoregion, of the montane grasslands and shrublands biome, is found in the central Andes Mountains of South America. It is considered one of the eight Natural Regions in Peru, but extends south, across Bolivia, as far as northern Argentina and Chile. The term puna encompasses diverse ecosystems of the high Central Andes above 3200–3400 m.
Sajama National Park is a national park located in the Oruro Department, Bolivia. It borders Lauca National Park in Chile. The park is home to indigenous people, known as the Aymara, whose influential ancient culture can be seen in various aspects throughout the park. The park contains unique cultural artifacts and ecological wonders, making it an exemplary location for ecotourism. Many different indigenous plants and animals are exclusive to this area; therefore, its continued conservation is of great ecological importance. Management of the park operates under a co-administrative approach, with local people and park conservationists engaging in a constant dialogue regarding park upkeep and policy.
Inca cuisine originated in pre-Columbian times within the Inca civilization from the 13th to the 16th century. The Inca civilization stretched across many regions, and so there was a great diversity of plants and animals used for food, many of which remain unknown outside Peru. The most important staples were various tubers, roots, and grains. Maize was of high prestige, but could not be grown as extensively as it was further north. The most common sources of meat were guinea pigs and llamas, and dried fish was common.
The fauna of the Andes, a mountain range in South America, is large and diverse. As well as a huge variety of flora, the Andes contain many different animal species.
A cria is a juvenile llama, alpaca, vicuña, or guanaco.
Incan agriculture was the culmination of thousands of years of farming and herding in the high-elevation Andes mountains of South America, the coastal deserts, and the rainforests of the Amazon basin. These three radically different environments were all part of the Inca Empire and required different technologies for agriculture. Inca agriculture was also characterized by the variety of crops grown, the lack of a market system and money, and the unique mechanisms by which the Incas organized their society. Andean civilization was "pristine"—one of five civilizations worldwide which were indigenous and not derivative from other civilizations. Most Andean crops and domestic animals were likewise pristine—not known to other civilizations. Potatoes and quinoa were among the unique crops; Camelids and guinea pigs were the unique domesticated animals.
Alpaca fleece is the natural fiber harvested from an alpaca. There are two different types of alpaca fleece. the most common fleece type comes from a Huacaya. Huacaya fiber grows and looks similar to sheep wool in that the animal looks "fluffy". The second type of alpaca is Suri and makes up less than 10% of the South American alpaca population. Suri fiber is more similar to natural silk and hangs off the body in locks that have a dreadlock appearance. (Alpacas Magazine, Spring 2002, Suri Fiber Electron Microscopy, Andy Tillman. While both fibers can be used in the worsted milling process using light weight yarn or thread, Huacaya fiber can also be used in a woolen process and spun into various weight yarns. It is a soft, durable, luxurious and silky natural fiber.
The alpaca is a species of South American camelid descended from the vicuña. It is similar to, and often confused with, the llama. However, alpacas are often noticeably smaller than llamas. The two animals are closely related and can successfully cross-breed. Alpacas and llamas are related to the guanaco. There are two breeds of alpaca: the Suri alpaca and the Huacaya alpaca.
Andrew Charles ("Andy") Tillman is one of the founders of the llama industry in the United States. He is an expert on llama and alpaca health, selective breeding, and marketing. Tillman is the co-founder of the International Llama Association, and he wrote the halter-class guidelines for the American Llama Show Association. His book, Speechless Brothers, was the first comprehensive study of llama husbandry published in the United States.
Lamini is a tribe of the subfamily Camelinae. It contains two extant genera with four species, all exclusively from South America: llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, and guanacos. The former two are domesticated species, while the latter two are only found in the wild. None display sexual dimorphism. The four species can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. Additionally, there are two extinct genera known from the fossil record.
The Otavalos are an indigenous people native to the Andean mountains of Imbabura Province in northern Ecuador. The Otavalos also inhabit the city of Otavalo in that province. Commerce and handcrafts are among the principal economic activities of the Otavalos, who enjoy a higher standard of living than most indigenous groups in Ecuador and many mestizos of their area.
The vertical archipelago is a term coined by sociologist and anthropologist John Victor Murra under the influence of economist Karl Polanyi to describe the native Andean agricultural economic model of accessing and distributing resources. Aside from certain cultures, particularly in the arid northwest coast of Peru and northern Andes, pre-colonial Andean civilizations did not have strong traditions of market-based trade. Like Mesoamerican pochteca traders, there was a trading class known as mindaláes in these northern coastal and highland societies. A system of barter known as trueque is also known to have existed in these coastal societies as a means of exchanging goods and food stuffs between farmers and fisherman. A simple currency, known to archaeologists as axe-monies, were also present in the area. By contrast, most highland Andean societies, such as the Quechua and Aymara, were organized into moietal lineage groups, such as ayllus in the Quechua case. These lineages internally shared local labor through a system called mink'a. The mink'a labor system itself rested upon the concept of ayni, or reciprocity, and did not use any form of money as in the case of the coastal Andean traders. All members of the village, the Allyu, had to contribute a certain amount of labor to a communal project such as the construction of common use buildings, maintenance, herding the communally owned animals or sowing and harvesting communally owned farmland. Fundamentally, it is a concept of "ecological complementarity" mediated through cultural institutions. Some scholars, while accepting the structure and basic nature of the vertical archipelago, have suggested that inter-ethnic trade and barter may have been more important than the model suggests, despite the lack of evidence in the archaeological and ethnohistoric record.
Kim MacQuarrie is an author, documentary filmmaker, anthropologist, and conservationist whose works include the best-selling The Last Days of the Incas (2007) and The Living Edens. His documentary film work has brought him 4 national Emmy awards.
Huacaya is the one of the two breeds that make up the species Vicugna pacos, commonly known as the alpaca. The other breed is the Suri. It lives on the Altiplano plateau in the Andes at up to 4,000 m above sea level. Its natural range encompasses four South American countries.
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