MyRoots Story, the Andean Animals
Ancient Peruvians did not only domesticate and improve the yield and nutrition of their crops, but they also worked diligently on the animals they had at their disposal. Without extensive arable land in Peru, my ancestors, through the respectful collaboration between nature and the roots, had developed the greatest agricultural civilization and nutrient-dense superfoods. As one of the world’s 12 magadiverse countries, Peruvians respect the harmony between men and land, in preserving the wild relatives of crops and animals to make biodiversity survive and sustain. Biodiversity generally “refers to the variety and variability of life on Earth. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), biodiversity typically measures variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level”. I am going to introduce three groups of South American Camelids. They were domesticated under gradual process from thousands of years ago, but they all preserve the unique wild relatives, in making Peru an important agricultural nation.
The Llama looks similar to sheep, is at 1.7M tall and weighs between 130-200kg. Llama was domesticated over 6,000 years. They were bred for their strength (to carry loads up to 30% of their body weight), their sure footing (which allowed them to navigate the steep terrain of the Andes), their wool (that was used to weave and make all types of everyday garments), for their meat (that was dried and used as a supplement to the Andean diet) and their intelligence, as they can learn simple tasks and obey voice commands.
The Alpaca is smaller than the llama, around 81cm to 99cm height & 70-90kg. It was domesticated and bred mainly for its wool which is of finer quality than llamas and has been bred to produce 52 different colours. Alpacas are also very intelligent and learn simple commands, they also communicate with very strong body signals. Alpacas are territorial so they were bred be used as “guard dogs” for herds.
The Vicuña is smaller than the Alpaca. They are very shy animals, and are easily aroused by intruders, due to their extraordinary hearing. It was bred exclusively for it’s extremely fine wool. This wool was used to produce wool for garments only to be used by the Incas and the royal family. The wool is one of the finest in the world with a diameter of 12 μm, which is comparable to the Angora wool and much finer than Cashmere wool that measures between 14 to 19 μm. A vicuña scarf costs around US$1,500, a sports coat made of vicuña wool can cost US$20,000.
Vicuñas were also used for fertility rituals and for special religious celebrations. They are also a symbol on Peru national flag.