Animals in South America
The vicugna is the smallest member of the camel family and needs water on a daily basis, as the only one in this family. The vicugna lives on the tundra-like steppes of western South America at an altitude of 3,600 to 4,800 meters.
The vicugna is the smallest member of the camel family and needs water on a daily basis, as the only one in this family. The vicugna lives on the tundra-like steppes of western South America at an altitude of 3,600 to 4,800 meters. It lives exclusively on perennial grasses, which can wear on the teeth. That is why the vicugnas teeth grow throughout their lives.
The vicugna lives in social groups with a dominant male, 5-10 females and their calves. The group has a fixed territory marked by excrement. Young males form own flocks. The mating takes place in March-April, and after approx. 11 months, usually 1 calf is born.
The vicugna has a reputation for having the finest and most exclusive wool in the world amd it is rare, too. Its dense and highly insulating wool can only be cut every 3 years. The Inca Indians captured the wild animals to cut the fur, then released them again. Unfortunately, the demand for soft wool became so great with the white man's arrival in South America that the population of vicugnas fell from an estimated 1.5 million animals, to just 6,000 in 1960.
The vicugnas population has been increasing for a long time, but now it seems as if the population is declining due to poaching, economic interest in hybridization between alpacas and vicugnas and destruction of their natural habitats.
"...did you know that vicugnas spit when they have to defend themselves?"
On the map you can find where the different animal feedings take place