Friday, February 4, 2011


(Image Source)
Phylum: Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Artiodactyla
Family : Camelidae
Genus : Vicugna
Species : vicugna

Height : 2.75-3.25ft (84-99 cm)
Weight : 100-120lbs (45-55kg)

IUNC Status : Least Concern

(Image Source)
The Vicuña is one of two wild Camelids found in South America, the other being the Guanaco. They can be found in the high grasslands of the Andes Mountains, hanging out at elevations of 10,500-15,750ft (3,200-4,800m). Vicuñas are the smallest of all the Camelids, and it is believed that they are the descendants of the domesticated Alpacas.

Vicuña fibers are some of the rarest and most sought after in the world. The hairs are finer than cashmere are are warmer than wool, but only about 1lb per year is produced per animal and they can only be shorn once every two years. Vicuña fleeces have been harvested for centuries, but unrestricted hunting almost led to the extinction of the species in the 1960s and 1970s. Legal sheering is allowed today under careful watch to ensure that all captured Vicuñas are returned to the wild.

Vicuñas live in rather interesting social groups. Each group includes a dominant male and several females, who have a daytime feeding territory and a higher elevation nighttime territory. These groups are very close-knit, and juveniles are kicked out to prevent inbreeding and competition. Young males and females form bachelors herds along with other members of their sex. Vicuñas are very skittish animals, and will quickly flee from any hint of danger. Thanks to a large heart, they can run at speeds of 30mph (50kph) at high elevations.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! I love these guys; I saw them when I studied abroad in Chile. :)


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