How a national reserve stopped the extinction of the Peruvian vicuña

Mongabay
By: Vanessa Romo | Translated by Sarah Engel
Photo: Courtesy of Alpaca Culture

Original content from Mongabay.
 
LUCANAS PROVINCE, Peru — At an altitude of 13,450 feet, the icy wind pounds whatever lies in its path. After 23 years of living in the Pampa Galeras – Barbara D’Achille National Reserve, Hernán Sosaya is well-adjusted and can withstand the blustering wind.

At the top of a plain, a vicuña (Vicugna vicugnanotices) and a cousin to llamas, sees that we are only a few feet away and raises its head.

“You can recognize the male because it’s always at the front of the herd, attentively watching for danger,” says Sosaya. The male vicuña starts to move away and the rest of the group trots along behind him.

The park rangers at Pampa Galeras, like Sosaya, are experts at monitoring vicuñas. Every day, they are monitored within the park, which is 40 square miles and located in the district of Lucanas in Peru’s Ayacucho region. With more than 5,000 vicuñas currently living in the protected area, monitoring them has not been easy.

Allan Flores, the manager of the reserve, put this into perspective with this piece of data: in the 1960s, there were about 5,000 vicuñas living in the entire country of Peru.

Read the rest of this story and view the photos at Mongabay.