Graduation 2017

Photo: Courtesy of Amantani 

2017 marks a real milestone for the community of Ccorca. When we first stared working there in 2007 only two students graduated from the local secondary school. Now at the end of 2017, 40 young people will graduate from school! Whilst many factors have played their part, a pivotal moment was in 2012 when the local school was recognised as an official secondary school on the back of a campaign backed by Amantani and the children's parents.

Until then the school had functioned as a Centro Piloto de Educación a la Distancia, which was a pilot project aimed at ensuring young people from rural areas had access to education at a minimal cost. The secondary school began under this system in 2000, and for the twelve years following, lessons were given through pre-recorded videos on television sets operated by untrained teaching staff. By 2007, the school had attracted more than 40 pupils who were ‘taught’ by three tutors.

In 2012, following pressure applied through a campaign backed by Amantani, the school was recognised as an official secondary school. This new status enabled the school to attract more pupils - there is now a burgeoning pupil body of 225. It has also entitled the school to more resources including infrastructure and teaching staff - the school now benefits from 18 members of teaching staff and an extended timetable, which runs from 08.30 to 16.30.

We are incredibly proud of the 40 young graduates and in particular of the eight students who have been with us in the Boarding Houses. We wish them well as they embark on the next phase and look forward to welcoming many of them in our Transitions Project where we will support them as they transition from school into further education and employment.

Learn more about Amantani here.

Nuñoa Project’s Peruvian Work in 2017

By Stephen R. Purdy, DVM, Nuñoa Project President
Photo: Courtesy of Nuñoa Project

Photo Caption: The November 2017 Nunoa Project veterinary team with alpaca farmers near Pucara Peru. Steve Purdy
is in the middle in the green coveralls.

Nuñoa Project's Peruvian Work

Our 2017 llama work included visits to work with 20 llama farmers in Huacahuasi, CanchaCancha, and Cuncani about 3 hours’ drive into the mountains from Urubamba in the Department of Cusco. We are working with Llama Pack Project ( from Urubamba to make initial veterinary contacts with llama farmers along the Inca Trail. The overall goal of the llama project is to assist the farm families there to increase their family income by using their llamas for packing.

The herd evaluations we perform included assessing animal stature and body condition score (BCS) for suitability for packing and overall nutritional status. Approximately 25% of animals are males with good enough body condition and size to be used as pack animals now. Most herds do not have enough food and/or water exposure for the animals they have based on low BCS. This is particularly evident during the dry season in July each year. The farmers will receive training on this so they can perform their own BCS evaluations and react accordingly.

In addition we perform ultrasound pregnancy exams on female llamas and alpacas in the herds to assess fertility of both breeding males and females and the ef2icacy of the breeding management plans of individual farmers. Overall the fertility of the llama herds we see is good (70 to 80% pregnancy rate). Some herds have low pregnancy rates which usually is related to the males they are using or breeding management strategies which can be improved. We also evaluate breeding males for farmers. The incidence of infectious diseases in llamas was low based on comments of the farmers. Problems of signi2icance in some herds included diarrhea in crias, liver 2lukes, and lice.

Our 2017 alpaca work involved a return to Pucara and Lampa in the Department of Puno in the southern Andes for the sixth and seventh times since starting our work there in December 2014. There are 2ive communities with which we work on each trip, and we see new farmers each trip. Overall we have worked with 60 different farmers including new ones in Picotani in July 2017. We perform the same type of herd evaluations as we do for llamas. Some of the farmers with whom we work have been borrowing Nunoa Project’s superior males to improve their herds. Use of superior males and limiting the number of females they are exposed to have resulted in increased pregnancy rates in most herds. We provide training in breeding male selection and evaluation of nutritional status through body condition scoring during each herd evaluation. We work with the farmers to address any production problems they may have. These include malnutrition, infectious diseases, poor fertility in males and females, abortion, and cria and adult deaths. Our goal is to identify potential causative factors and offer possible solutions. As always we share information with the farmers and without fail learn new things from them on each trip.

Slow but steady progress continues with the farmers with whom we work. Farmers are very enthusiastic about continuing to work with us to improve their herds. We are making arrangements to visit additional alpaca and llama farmers in July 2018 in response to requests for herd evaluations and farmer educational programs.

Nuñoa Project U.S. Work - The North American Camelid Studies Program
Our U.S. and Peruvian work both emphasize education as the key to improvement of animal health and veterinary skills. The goals of the program are to train future and current veterinarians and animal scientists and alpaca farmers in practical subjects related to animal health, husbandry, and reproduction. This is accomplished with our teaching herd of 30 alpacas and 10 donkeys and visits to local producers. Pre-veterinary students are exposed to the alpaca industry at local shows. Dr. Purdy provides consultation services to veterinarians and alpaca owners. He also speaks at regional and international conferences on a wide variety of subjects and frequently provides training to veterinary students at their home universities. Approximately 50% of our 100 Peruvian volunteers are past students who have completed one or more courses. Clearly we are making a positive impact on these excellent young people.

Undergraduate Animal Science/Prevet Courses: Camelid Management; Alpaca and Donkey Reproduction.

Both courses are offered each semester and emphasize hands on interactive learning in small groups. Students gain confidence while being challenged to think on their feet leading to development of problem solving skills.

More than 60 students who have taken these courses have been admitted to and/or graduated from veterinary or another graduate school. These are the camelid vets and researchers for our alpacas and llamas in the US and internationally. 8 students applied for admission to veterinary schools for 2018.

Practical, Humane Research with Alpacas and Donkeys: breeding behavior, semen collection and evaluation, and reproductive ultrasound during breeding and pregnancy. This work emphasizes problem solving skills and students gain con2idence while learning new techniques. Examples of ongoing research projects: twin pregnancies, the effect of age of females and males on fertility, semen characteristics during breeding periods and as animals increase in age, and early pregnancy diagnosis.

Education for Veterinarians, Owners, and Students:
1. 6 day Intensive Camelid Practice Courses are offered in June each year covering practical topics:
2. Producer seminars at alpaca shows and farms are provided on similar topics

Summary For 2017
We continue to make a difference with our educational and hands on programs in both the US and Peru. We have the expertise and motivation to continue this important work. Fundraising for educational projects in the US and international agricultural work is very challenging at best. 2017 has been a difficult year for us in that respect although we have found some new donors. We need more of them and some consistent, large donors to meet our annual budget. Please help us!

Learn more about Nuñoa Project here.

Another Day In Paradise

Nuñoa Project
By: Dr Jhoana Jimenez
Photo: Courtesy of Nuñoa Project  

Every day was a new and wonderful adventure. Every time we arrived to a new place, Dr Steve Purdy used to say: “Another day in paradise”. So, I think it´s the perfect phrase to describe this magical trip.

I am a 23 year-old lady, from Arequipa, Perú; I studied Veterinary in Scientific University of the South, in Lima and since veterinary is such a broad career, students usually could not get completely involved in all areas or specialties. Therefore, internships and externships are absolutely necessary and useful, because they allow you to have more experience and a better view of what exactly happens on the field. At least, this is the way it works in my country.

As happens with most of all newly graduated veterinary student in Perú, I was in the search for my path, as in the meanwhile I was working in my thesis to get the degree; when suddenly, the advertisement for this journey appeared randomly: this would be my opportunity to have a look at the reality of my country. And it really was, in every single way.

The idea of working with camelids, when I started university, was impossible. Fortunately and by accident, I was proposed to work in alpacas for my thesis last year; and that is the beginning of everything. The more I learned about camelids, mainly alpacas, the more I felt in love with the topic. At the same time I could realized the lack of knowledge that still need to be investigated, especially in my country, as it has the highest population of alpacas in the wolrd. This would mean a huge cultural, social and economic positive impact for all andean people, mainly because their animals means everything to them. They are the principal source of food, quickly cash if they need, Piber and skin for cold and sometimes packing (llamas) to transport their products to the nearest town.

Having the opportunity to join this amazing cause was the best journey I have ever been part of. This trip set a before and after in my life. I learned so many lessons for life and clarify so many thoughts I was having trouble with. This trip made me believe in humanity again, realized that there is still people with a huge willing to help the others without any ulterior motive, even with so many difPiculties such languages, lack of tools or gadget, distance, geographic location and altitude.

Working with such an amazing group of people was incredible. It was impossible not to learn something new every day. This journey was so full of knowledge. It always happened that if there was some fact that you were absolutely sure about, then you would realized it wasn ́t necessarily the way you thought before. On the way, you also learn to be Plexible with treatments and theory in general, because you never know what you can Pind in each case. You also learn to work in team, to be quicker in Pinding solutions and adapt easily to new difPicult situation in order to help and succeed in the attempt.

There were so many stories and people touched, including me. Most of families that we visited were in the middle of anything, so far away with no transportation available, with a really difPicult access, each one harder than the next one. Houses, cloths, furniture, animals and of course people were so needy, with so many lacks, but thankful with such strong willing to success that every single effort deserved it and made you encourage and keep going. Now I can understand better what Dr Purdy feel with Nuñoa Project and why he keeps doing what he does. He is such a passionate, altruistic, humble and wise person, sometimes sarcastic with a great sense of humor, but extremely courage and determined, that now a days you hardly have the pleasure of meet. Since the Pirst day, he was always encouraging us to try, to never give up for small obstacles, to always keep doing our best, even if it seemed impossible.

This trip not only gave me new truly friends, we were a little family during this 2 perfect weeks. All dinners, mainly in Pucará, with Mexican, Peruvian and Italian homemade lovely food, after a hard working morning, were not only delicious, but pleasant and funny because of our after-dinner conversations, talking about our own costumes, languages and habits, without stop laughing.

The Nuñoa Project has allowed me to see by myself what really happen in my country, with my people in the andes. I could see how animals hardly survive even with their extremely poor body conditions, with their restricted amount of food, only available in rain season, mostly full of parasites. Genetic diseases were common in some places because of incorrect inbreeding, while infective diseases could hardly be treated, just when governmental or private organizations like Nuñoa Project visited these communities, which happens usually once a year. This people didn’t even know even how many males and females had, and unfortunately because of lack of information they had castrated their best animals, while in some other places we weren’t allow to examine their pregnant females because they were afraid of abortions.

Each place we went, we changed roles and by the end of the trip, each one was an expert in everything. We organized in groups and activities: catching the animal, doing the ultrasounds, scoring of body condition, evaluating age by the teeth, measuring of testes, examination of external parasites and skin lesions, taking notes and talking with people to get some information about common diseases, abortions and deaths. After examining all the animals, even with the language barriers, we tried to explained them about the general status of their animals and gave some advises about diseases and cares that they had to improve with them. The most rewarding thing about this part was their increasing interest in knowing more and more about their animals, they were always asking and trying to understand, taking notes of all advices. The whole family was involved in the work, even kids were helping.

A personal goal which I was afraid of not achieving was to learn about ultrasound; but fortunately and thankfully, because of everybody ́s patient lessons, by the end of the trip I could became an expert on it. I felt so proud of me at that moment. This journey made me realized that absolutely everything is possible if you are determined enough to get it, as long as, you are also surrounded by truly unselPish friends like mine. What is more, I could reafPirm my passion for camelids, and feel again that working on the Pield with them, is not impossible, even with cultural barriers, geography and altitud difPiculties and extremely cold weather.

Field work is irreplaceable and If you are thinking of joining this amazing adventure, you need to keep in mind that you should be always ready for work and tons of fun. But the most important think, you must be WILLING TO HELP, that is what characterizes this great group of people. They are always willing to do something better for all this people and their animals, even with all adversities that are involved.

Finally but not less important, I would like to thank Dr. Steve Purdy and The Nuñoa Proyect, for letting me being part of this high quality group of people, not only because of their wide professional experience and knowledge, but because of the great human being I know they are. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to be in all of these paradises, working together and helping all my compatriots without asking for anything. “Valen un Perú!!!”. Also I would like to thank Llama Pack, who allowed us to get in contact to all these communities, their energy for Pield working is endless!

This life experience trip definitely changes you in so many ways. I feel too fortunate, hopping that in some near future, I would have the honor of taking part in this cause again. It was a great pleasure to work with all of you. Each of you: Gerardo, Lila, Nicol, Ali, Header, Gian Lorenzo and Dr. Purdy, made this trip unforgettable for me.

Learn more about Nuñoa Project here.

The Nunoa Project In Peru: Final Update

Nuñoa Project   
By: Stephen R. Purdy, DVM
Photo: Courtesy of Nuñoa Project 

Final Work For Nunoa Project Veterinary Team In Peru

Our team finished up this winter’s veterinary work trip in Peru with two days of llama work in the community of Cuncani near Urubamba. We worked with 9 farm families over 2 days. Each camelid community in Peru seems to have a unique personality and Cuncani is definitely an upbeat and happy place to work. It was a 3 hour drive from our home base in Urubamba over some high mountain passes and very windy roads.

When we arrived in the town of Lares about 30 minutes from our final destination we found many workers there digging in the streets and installing new water and sewer pipes. It was a short walk with our gear to the other side of town where we transferred to a station wagon for the remainder of the trip. We stayed in a community school classroom and ate our meals in the school kitchen building. The scenery was spectacular and true to form all herds we visited were uphill from the base camp. The hiking was not long but it was very steep. We were acclimated to the altitude at that point and luckily did not have rain during the 2 days.

We evaluated 9 small herds with the common finding of low body condition in most of them. This varied depending on the available pasture. We evaluated several breeding males which were mostly good. I estimate that about 50% of the anima ls were small for use as packers but most herds had enough to have string of animals. The last herd we evaluated on the second day had the best llamas we have ever seen in Peru. These tall Ccara llamas had good body condition and herd pregnancy rate. The owners are eager to start into packing for tourist treks and hopefully will be able to get going soon. They can certainly serve as a model for other farmers in the community. It was an excellent end to our work in Peru.

The day after our last community visit the team members all went there separate ways. One stayed in Urubamba, another went back to Lima, another to Tacna Peru, one back to the UK, and two of us back to the US. This team came with different experience levels with camelids but all had much to contribute to the work. They were a very fun group with which to work. Hard work and minor adversities have way of bonding team members and this trip was no exception. I expect and hope that some will work with Nunoa Project in Peru in the future. Overall during our 2 weeks in Peru we handled and evaluated approximately 450 alpacas and llamas for 28 farmers. Progress is being made for farmers we have visited in the past and I feel optimistic about the future for the new farmers we met. We have the incentive and skill to help the farmers to improve their animals’ health and production and thus to increase their family income. It is always humbling to meet and work with Peruvian camelid farmers.

Please help us to help them and to train future camelid veterinarians and scientists in Peru and the US by making a tax deductible donation to the Nunoa Project through our website or by mail. Your money will be well spent where there is a great need. Please give generously to help us help others.

Learn more about Nuñoa Project here.