Wooly vi­cu­nas sheared at Inca fes­ti­val in Peru’s An­des

The China Post - - LIFE -

Hun­dreds of peo­ple from the nearby vil­lage of Lu­canas grasped a rope dec­o­rated with mul­ti­col­ored stream­ers and marched across the broad An­dean plain to round up vi­cu­nas, llama-like an­i­mals that are prized for their valu­able wool.

Be­fore the Wed­nes­day roundup at the Pam­pas Galeras Na­tional Re­serve, Peru­vians in tra­di­tional cos­tume per­formed a dance as part of the an­cient rit­ual, known as the “chaccu.”

Dozens of the an­i­mals were then gen­tly cap­tured, shorn of their long, tawny brown and white wool, then set free. The shear­ing fes­ti­val was over­seen by a man dressed as an Inca king.

For cen­turies, hun­ters killed the elu­sive vi­cuna for its wool and leather rather than shear the an­i­mals live. The species was on the brink of ex­tinc­tion by 1964, when Peru’s gov­ern­ment es­tab­lished the na­tional re­serve, now the prin­ci­pal sanc­tu­ary for the species.?

A mem­ber of the camelid fam­ily, the vi­cuna is Peru’s na­tional an­i­mal, fea­tured on the Peru­vian flag and con­sid­ered im­por­tant in many An­dean com­mu­ni­ties.

The roundup is a nod to an­cient Inca cul­ture as well as ef­forts to pre­serve the once-en­dan­gered an­i­mals.


1. Pro­tected vi­cu­nas are sil­hou­et­ted against a semi-cloudy, blue sky, over­look­ing the An­dean plains on the Pampa Galeras Na­tional Re­serve, Peru on Wed­nes­day, June 24. 2. Peru­vian high­land In­di­ans cor­ral pro­tected vi­cu­nas on an An­dean plain in the Pampa Galeras Na­tional Re­serve, in the Peru­vian state of Ay­acu­cho on Wed­nes­day. 3. A Peru­vian high­land In­dian dressed as an Inca king makes an of­fer­ing of burnt coca leaves dur­ing a cer­e­mony at the na­tional “Chaccu,” or an­nual roundup of vi­cu­nas, on the An­dean plains in the Pampa Galeras Na­tional Re­serve, in the Peru­vian state of Ay­acu­cho on Wed­nes­day.

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