Who ought to market Peru’s “golden fleece”?


Clutching a rope hung with multicolored streamers, some 200 campesinos and a handful of tourists trudge across the upland plain. As a cluster of animals bounds into view, a shout goes up. Campesinos shake the streamers, and the line surges forward. For several hours, the scene is repeated as a human circle closes in on the vicuñas in Pampa Galeras, a reserve 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) above sea level in Peru’s department of Ayacucho. Before it’s over, hundreds of these shy and delicate wild cousins of the domesticated llama and alpaca will be herded into a portable corral, sheared and released. For many poor communities in the Peruvian Andes, vicuña wool has become a golden fleece. The vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) thrives in the inhospitable highlands... [Log in to read more]

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