What is Vicuna? Habitat, Diet, Lifespan, & Facts

  • Post last modified:October 2, 2021
  • Reading time:5 mins read

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What is Vicuna?

Vicuna is an animal species, which is found in the mountainous and grassy areas. It belongs to the kingdom Animalia, class Mammalia, phylum Chordata, family, Camelidae and order Artiodactyla. It weighs around 35-60kg and usually stays in herds. It feeds on grasses and lives for a period of 15-20 years.

The genus of this organism is Vicugna and the species name is vicugna. This species habitats in the Andes Mountain grasslands and can thrive at heightened places. This species belongs to the Camel family. This species exist at a height of above 10,000-15,000 feet.

When vicuna is compared to guanaco, vicuna is quite small, with a tiny tail and fine wool. From the vicuna, alpaca are believed to originated, due to the domestication. During the night time they stay at hills, during the day time they graze in the grassy areas. As they reside in hill, there are less of chances of them getting hunted. Although they are mostly hunted by pumas. These animal is a light-footed animal on rocks, which protects them from predators.

Vicuna Wool: One of the Expensive Fabrics

The wool of this vicuna species is very precious as its very warm and sloppy. Thus, when it’s used for making clothes, material is very slushy. If a coat is made from this fabric, it would cost around 20,000 dollars. As these animals reside in mountainous area, the climate keeps on varying, thus to protect them, during the day-time as its hot, wool takes care that the animal does not heat-up, by allowing air to pass and due to the light color.

However, in the night as the temperature falls and its freezing cold, the air pockets present in the animals keeps them warm from the low temperatures. Because the wool is so precious and is extremely slushy, only the Incan civilization royal house, wore it as a sign of prestige and to show how royal they were.

During the war time, this wool was deciphered by the Spanish conquerors and taken to Europe, where it was grown. With the overexploitation of vicuna, it vanished around the 1960.

Vicuna Facts

Vicuna because of its history and its excellent adaptations, it’s a highly captivating and eye-catching species. Vicuna also is related to biology, with its engrossing concepts.

Preventing Poaching: Save the Vicuna

As vicunas were over-exploited for their wool, thus various organization and Peruvian government came up to preserve vicuna from getting vanished. This requires a huge group of people and wool shears.

These people gather at a particular years in some time and all the vicunas are brought where they are captivated and their wool is taken and then left to back to their original environment. Thus, resulting in the getting the required item without any harm to the animals. This process is called as Chaccu, which helps in conservation and protects them in their habitat.

In the year 1960, there were around 6000 vicuna and now it’s more than 350000. Thus, removing them from the category of endangered. Thus, similar technique is used on various animals. For example, elephants and rhinos’ tusks are trimmed periodically, so as to protect them from poachers and results in a drop in poaching.

Vicuna: Wool Producing Animals

Not only the vicuna, but sheep, Lamas, also generates wool, but the wool differs in quality, size, growing rate and the air luring capacity. It has excellent air imprisoning capacity, but take quite long to grow completely.

As the wools of these animals take time to grow, they are artificially produced, so that the wool can be generated quickly and more amount can be produced. Vicunas although resemble IIamas and alpacas, generate more amount of wool than vicunas. Thus, keeping vicuna wool more precious and less hands on it so that it can be protected from getting over-exploited.

Animals which produce wool can survive quite well in varying temperature as their wool can captivate heat when the temperature drops and liberates that heat when its hot. Thus, this is the way animals producing wools stay in mountainous regions. When its pouring, wools are coated with oil so that they don’t stay wet for a longer period of time.

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