Though today vicunas are famous for their beautiful and fine woolen products sold in the stores along high streets of the world’s greatest cities, they have only recently been rehabilitated. These beautiful Andean animals almost became extinct just a few decades ago. Strict conservation projects and guidelines given to vicuna farmers have helped in re-establishing vicuna population in the Peruvian Andes. Vicunas can be found in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and even in Chile.
Where are the vicunas found?
They are mostly found in high altitude locations above 3,200 meters. During the day, they feed on grass that grows on the plains of the Andes mountains. However, when the sun sets, vicunas return to the slopes and spend the darkness there. The vicunas are blessed with a thick and fine coat of fur which helps them to keep warm in the freezing cold of the Andes. Poaching of vicunas is taken very seriously, and villagers hold a shearing event every year, where vicunas that have a fur thicker than 2.5 cms are shorn. This fur is used to create beautiful products that are sold in certified luxury stores.
If you are planning to visit Peru, make sure to at least take a look at vicuna products in one of the stores of Lima. Most people may not be able to afford them as they are truly expensive. Sweaters and jackets can cost close to 9,000 euros and many tourists may not have that kind of money. However, it is always nice to observe what the finished products of vicuna wool look and feel like.
Vicunas nearly went extinct
It is remarkable that these animals are rehabilitated and are now being reared for their wool. Just a few decades ago, they went nearly extinct due to unrestrained poaching and hunting. Thanks to effective penalties and rules against poaching of vicuna, their population is blooming in Peru. If you are lucky, you might even be able to see them live in one of the Andean villages.