Wild vicuñas become asset in Puna region


The Corral Blanco chaccu began with the herding of wild vicuñas into a temporary corral. The animals were shorn and released the next day under the supervision of a veterinarian and an official from the Jujuy province Biodiversity Secretariat. (Photo by Daniel Gutman)

More than 90 people tramp abreast down a mountainside in Jujuy, an Andean province in northwest Argentina. Below them, dozens of vicuñas (Vicugna vicugna), wild ancestors of the domesticated alpaca, dash in all directions, attempting to flee. The herders wave colored flags when vicuñas come near them, shooing the animals ever-closer to a huge funnel formed by two 600-meter fishing nets strung from posts. After an hour of herding, the animals have been penned in a corral built of fencing lined with green canvas. The afternoon drama played out this month in Corral Blanco, an indigenous community of some 50 people located 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) above sea level. The vicuñas would be kept overnight in the corral, then would be shorn and freed the next day. It’s the modern-day version of the chaccu, a traditional gathering of fiber from wild camelids that indigenous communities of the... [Log in to read more]

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