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Alpacas Or Vicugna Pacos

by Robert Baird


The country of Peru located at the convergence point of Eastern and Western Europe inhabits various different species of flora and fauna and one among the various breeds of animals is the alpaca. These alpacas or Vicugna pacos are domestic animals, having been domesticated for several years by the group of people known as Moche who dwell in the northern part of Peru. The alpacas can be considered a variant of the South American camelid and in somewhat similar in appearance to the llama. Alpacas are usually found to graze in herds and while in nature they are found to be more or less mild and curious kinds, they are at the same time extremely intelligent and a very good observation. It is this strong power of observation that keeps them aware of their surroundings and makes them cautious as these animals are very susceptible to being victimized and killed by other animals. In the Peruvian country, the alpacas are found to graze in southern part about 3500 to 5000 meters above the sea level. A unique feature discovered in some of the alpacas is their tendency to spit. The act of spitting may be used as a defensive mechanism by the animal while in other cases, they may spit on being looked at and some alpacas may not spit at all. The baby alpaca is known as cria and during reproduction, usually a single cria is born at a time. In general it has been observed that alpacas can live for about 20 years though in the presence of better nutritional factors and health conditions they may live for long.

The most important possession of the alpacas is the alpaca's fiber and it is because of this fiber that is obtained from them that they are so much preserved and valued. In Peru only, it has been revealed that alpaca fiber is available in as many as 52 natural colors. In the textile industry, alpaca fiber primarily refers to the alpaca fiber obtained form Peru though it refers to several other fiber forms as well now. The alpaca fiber is a premier product and can be used to weave or knit various items and clothing like sweaters, socks, gloves, blankets and most importantly the poncho which is a very important aspect of South American clothing. Alpaca meats was also relished as a food item earlier but at present significant laws have been formulated in Peru to ensure ‘protected' status to the alpaca and therefore any form of trading of alpaca flesh is considered illegal.

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