LIMA – The less than 3,000 guanacos living in Peru could be extinct in 30 years due to poaching, researcher Jane C. Wheeler said.
Guanacos are completely wild and live at altitudes of between 1,000 meters (3,279 feet) and 3,800 meters (12,459 feet) in remote areas.
The animals are unfriendly because they are constantly being pursued by hunters, who do not want the hair or skin, as in the case of vicuñas, Wheeler, who is president of the South American cameloid research institute, known as Conopa, told Efe.
“If hunting, as it now is in the southern part of the country, continues, (the species) will go extinct in 30 years,” Wheeler said, citing the results of a study she conducted.
The researcher said, however, that the largest group of guanacos is protected at the Calipuy reserve in northern Peru, and there are also “other communities where they are very concerned about protecting them.”
Guanacos and vicuñas – small members of the camel family – live in the wild, unlike llamas and alpacas, which have been domesticated and are raised by peasants for their meat and fine hair, respectively.
Wheeler, who also works as a researcher for the veterinary school at Lima’s San Marcos University, estimates that there are currently some 140,000 vicuñas in Peru, while there are 4 million alpacas in the Andean nation. EFE