Camel Pictures and Facts

A vicuna

A vicuna.

Image Source: Neil K. / License under Creative Commons 2.0

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The vicuna, of the central Andes mountain range, is the smallest of the South American camels. It stands between 34 and 38 inches (86-96 cm) at the shoulders and weighs between 99 and 121 pounds (45-55 kg).
[6] Brought back from an extinction fueled by the quest for their valuable fleece, the vicuna population numbers about 125,000 (2000). At $225 for a pound of raw vicuna fleece, it is considered the "world's most valuable fleece" (1999). During the presidency of Peru's Alberto Fujimori, Alfonso Martinez, president of Consejo Nacional de Camelidos Sudamericano (CONACS), spearheaded the modern use of the ancient, communal roundup of vicuna, known as the chacu. Caught and shorn every two years, the vicuna becomes an unappealing target for poachers and a source of income for local villagers, who now become the owners and protectors of the vicuna. Keeping the processing of the vicuna fleece entirely in their own country, local communities, Peruvian mills (Grupo Inca), and conservationists hope to thwart the vicuna poachers. Time will tell. [7]

A guanaco

A guanaco.

Image Source: Alastair Rae / License under Creative Commons 2.0

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Having the familiar cleft upper lip of the Camelid family, the guanaco is one of South America's largest land mammals. The Baird's tapir is the largest land mammal, being heavier (525 to 880 pounds/ 240 to 400 kg) and longer (6.4 to 6.7 pounds/ 198 to 202 cm).
[8] On average, the guanaco stands at about 3 to 4 feet and weighs between 220 and 264 pounds. [9] Up to six feet (1.8 m) in length, guanacos can run 40 miles per hour (64 kph) and are strong swimmers. [10] Guanacos are known to greet one another with a "turkey-like gobble." [11] In the Gran Chaco desert of Paraguay, the guanaco has been seen very little for the last 40 years. Conservationists have recently found jaguar tracks, which indicates the presence of large prey, such as the guanaco. Further investigation with camera traps revealed the presence of guanaco camelids, which encouraged scientists in their effort to conserve both the guanaco and the arid ecosystem of the guanaco's habitat. [12] General indifference from the public, fueled by poaching for them as food or mistakenly eliminating them as disease spreaders among ranchers' livestock, has caused the guanaco to become a vanishing species, much like the North American bison. Scientists have found the guanaco population to be remarkably disease free. [13]

sitting camel

Image Source for two camels: Neil Carey
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