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Vicuna - The Basics
The vicuña (pronounced ve-coon-ah) is a species native to the Andes mountain, closely related to the guanaco. The vicuña is part of the camel family, though it is by far the smallest member. Compared to a guanaco, the vicuña is only about half the size, has a smaller tail, and finer wool. Home alpacas are likely to have originated from historic vinuña domestication attempts.
Vicuñas occupy the grasslands of the central Andes mountains and are adapted to very high elevations. In truth, most vicuñas are discovered between 10,000 and 15,000 ft – higher than most mountains in many parts of the world. They spend their days feeding throughout the grassy plains. At night, the herds move back into the hills.
In the hills and mountainous areas, vicuñas are able to avoid many of their predators. They're very nimble along rocky ridges, permitting them to evade less agile predators. Nevertheless, pumas are a serious predator of vicuñas, and pumas are more than capable of capturing prey amongst not sure footing.
Vicuña Wool – One of many World’s Most Costly Fabrics!
The fiber produced by the vicuña is extraordinarily valuable because of its extraordinarily soft and warm nature. Particular person wool fibers are some of the finest in the animal kingdom – leading to one of many softest materials in creation when it is weaved together. The fabric is so costly that a suit jacket made of vicuña wool can value upwards of $20,000!
The fibers are designed to keep the animal comfortable in the highly variable surroundings of the Andes Mountains. In the day, temperatures can be scorching hot. The light color and airiness of vicuña wool make sure that the animals do not overheat. Nighttime in the Andes is a distinct story, with temperatures usually dropping below freezing. Hollow air pockets within the wool keep the organisms warm even within the face of freezing temperatures.
Part of the reason that the vicuña was revered by historical Inca civilization was because of its fine wool. Only Incan royalty was allowed to wear the wool, as a sign of standing and respect. When the Spanish conquistadors invaded South America, vicuña wool was taken back to Europe and grew in commonity. By means of centuries of unregulated harvesting, the vicuña was nearly extinct in the 1960s!
Attention-grabbing Insights from the Vicuña!
The vicuña is an interesting species because of its superb adaptations, and in part because of the history humanity has experienced with the vicuña. While these are fascinating topics, the vicuña additionally displays a number of important ideas which are necessary to all of biology!
Preventing Poaching – Shave the Vicuñas!
The conservation of vicuñas depends on a trick that may be helpful to many different endangered species. Within the Seventies, the Peruvian government and a number of non-profit organizations teamed up to prevent the vicuña from going extinct. To take action required the assistance of the community and a large number of wool shears.
This method helped get the vicuña off of the endangered species list! Though there were as little as 6,000 vicuña in the Nineteen Sixties, populations are actually well above 350,000! Conservationists working on other species have started adopting this technique, with related success. Rhinos and elephants in certain parks have their ivory tusks regularly shaved down, making the animals almost worthless to a poacher. Typically, if the valuable part of an animal will be removed without hurt to the animal the method is perfect for reducing poaching.
A wide range of animals produces wool – from sheep to llamas – however not all wool is the same. Wool from completely different species can have many various qualities, including its width, length, growth time, and ability to trap air pockets. Vicuña wool is extraordinarily fine and traps air wonderfully – however can take up to 2 years or more to develop out absolutely!
Most wool-producing animals developed in environments with severe temperature shifts. Wool traps heat when it is just too cold and dissipates heat when things start getting too hot. This permits wool-producing animals to live in mountainous environments that have drastic temperature swings regularly. Wool can be covered in oils, which assist keep animals dry when it rains heavily.
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