Wooly vicunas sheared at Inca festival in Peru’s Andes
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.