Images of the South American camelids. Llamas and alpacas (both domesticated) are arguably the best known animals of the Andes and have been an important part of development and economics in the region for thousands of years. Large herds are kept by people in rural areas for their meat, wool (especially alpacas) and as pack animals (llamas). Guanacos are a wild species similar to the llama. They are found in arid mountainous areas and are generally more common in the Patagonian regions. Vicuñas are the smallest and rarest of the camelids, found in the barren high altitude plains (usually above 3200m / 10,500ft) of Peru, Bolivia, northern Chile and Argentina. They were hunted almost to extinction for their wool, which is highly prized and extremely valuable (in Inca times only members of the royal family were permitted to wear vicuña wool clothing). Populations have recovered from a low point of a few thousand in the mid 1970s when they were officially declared endangered, though they are still considered a threatened species.
For images of camelid farming and related activities please go to the Camelid Fairs, Farming and Related Industries gallery.