Vicuna and the domesticated descendent-Alpaca

Living in the high alpine regions of the Andes, the Vicunais one of two species of camelids in the South America (the other one being the Llama which is found at lower elevations.

The domesticated Vicuna is the increasingly well known Alpaca, with 45,000 farmed in the UK, and over 350,000 in both the USA and Australia.

How is its wild ancestor doing? Better than in the past. The Inca highly respected and valued the Vicuna, and it was illegal for anyone to wear clothes using their fur – except for royalty. Unfortunately this did not last beyond the end of their reign. There were hundreds of thousands of Vacuana at this point, though unregulated hunting meant that by 1974, by the time it was declared endangered, and hunting stopped, there were only 6000. These days the population is estimated at around 350,000. Its range is shown in the map to the right.

As a result, it is now considered least concern (down from endangered, back in 1972). Vicuñas are hunted by pumas and culpeos, (Andean fox)

There are 2 recognized subspecies.

See Animals Wild