Guanaco, Vicuña, Llama and Alpaca
Llamas, Alpacas, Guanaco and Vicuña are the real ‘Gold of the Andes’. It is only because of the existence of these South American Camelids that Andean man could survive in such extreme conditions. Llamas and Alpacas provided protection, transportation and food and the Guanaco food and clothing. The Vicuña, considered sacred by the Incas, were captured, sheared and released and the fibre made into cloth for the Inca Royalty.
Where once Vicuña and Guanaco roamed in great numbers, their populations were hunted almost to extinction from the time of the Spanish Conquistadors to the 1960s. Today these wild animals, found along the spine of the Andean nations of Peru, Chile and Argentina, are both protected under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) which has resulted in a population recovery and sensitive management of the fibre harvest.
The South American Camelids all produce a wonderful fibre, exquisite in colour and fineness. Some of the fibres are so fine that only the very best textile mills in the world have had any success in producing garments from them.