To commemorate the National Day of the Vicuña (November 15), regional and state entities pledged to work together to promote sustainable breeding and commercialization of the fiber. Here are 6 facts you should know.
The first National Forum of the Vicuña took place on November 14 and 15, 2019 in Huamanga, Ayacucho. During the event, the National Forestry and Wildlife Authority (SERFOR) announced they will work with other entities to promote sustainable breeding practices and commercialization opportunities for the vicuña fiber.
The working group for this initiative will include SERFOR, the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment, regional governments, and the associations of vicuña breeders. The goal is to work through challenges, including the greatest threats to the species which includes scabies and poaching.
Peru is the first country to export vicuña fiber and a fabric on a global scale, and much effort is placed in the repopulation of species, which is classified as “near threatened.” Here are 6 facts you should know:
1. Celebrating the species
In 2017, November 15 became the National Day of the Vicuña in Peru.
2. Where are they bred?
Vicuñas are bred in Andean terrain that’s above 3,200 meters, including the departments of: Áncash, Apurímac, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Cusco, Huancavelica, Huánuco, Ica, Junín, La Libertad, Lima, Moquegua, Pasco, Puno and Tacna.
3. Who breeds them?
331 organized farming communities are authorized to manage and breed the species. Vicuñas inhabit territories that affect more than 635 communities.
4. Shearing is caring
Only a select group of communities are approved for repopulating of the species by the National Council of South American Camelids. This entity also supervises the official annual program for shearing of vicuñas, carried out by similarly approved communities.
5. Ancestral tradition: Chaccu
Chaccu is a pre-hispanic tradition that consists in capturing the vicuña for the few hours it takes to shear them and then releasing them. This practice also helps fight against poaching, since a sheared vicuñas is of less value to poachers. The practice is supervised by regional governments, who also keep a registry of when these occur.
6. Finest of the land
The vicuña fiber is some of the finest in the world with a diameter of 12 micrometers. Compare that to cashmere fiber which is 14 to 19 micrometers, and the angora rabbit fiber which is 8 to 12 micrometers.
Cover photo: Andina