The vicuña is a South American camelid that lives in the high alpine areas of the Andes. Related to the llama, it is also thought to be the ancestor of its domesticated relative, alpacas.
They rely primarily on their good eyesight to sense the world around them. Their teeth are similar to rodent teeth, in that they keep growing over their lifetimes. They will lick limestone rocks to gain salt. They produce very fine and warm, desirable wool that can only be harvested every 3 years. In Incan society, only the royalty could use vicuña wool.
Conservation efforts have been a great success with the vicuña, increasing its numbers from 6,000 in 1974 to over 350,000 today. They have gone from “endangered” to “least concern”, although conservation efforts should be kept up to reduce habitat loss and poaching that could once more decrease their numbers.
Habitat: Grasslands and plains that are usually dry and cold. Water sources must be present.
–Average weight: 47.5kg
–Average length: 1.58m
In the wild up to: 20 years
In captivity up to: 24.8 years
Diet: They are strict grazers, meaning they eat only grass. They drink every day, so they must stay near water sources.
Distribution: The Andes in southern Peru, western Bolivia, northwestern Argentina and northern Chile.