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Vicuna - Facts, Diet, Habitat
The Vicuña is the smallest member of the family of camelids and is regarded as the alpaca's wild ancestor. It looks endearing, with its massive, forward-facing eyes and small, wedge-formed head with sharply triangular ears. The colour of the head varies from reddish-brown to yellow, and its neck is pale orange. Its chest is covered with a silky white mane, but the fur of the remainder of its body is soft and of the same length. It has a pale brown back and its underside and the internal parts of its flanks are dirty white.
The vicuña inhabits the Andes in southern Peru, north-western Argentina, western Bolivia, and northern Chile. It lives in mountainous areas above three,200 meters, grazing on the short, tough vegetation of these semi-arid rolling grasslands, marshes and plains known as "antiplano" or "puna". It inhabits areas the place water is available for it to drink on a every day basis. The climate of its habitat is dry, and is hot during the day and cold at night.
Habits and Lifestyle
Vicuñas are shy and alert animals that run away very rapidly. Once they sense hazard, they make a clear whistling noise. The dominant male warns the herd with its alarm call, and then positions himself between the threat and his herd. A single dominant male is the leader of a group of juveniles and females. He decides the range of the herd's territory and its membership, and drives different male vicuñas away from his group. Family groups are closed, excluding non-member males and generally even preventing younger feminine animals from joining. A household group usually numbers 6-10 individuals, in accordance with meals availability in its territory. Vicuñas have a feeding territory as well as a separate territory for sleeping. They are diurnal animals, and at night time go as much as their sleeping territory at higher altitudes. Adults that do not lead a herd either turn into solitary, or they be part of a big herd of 30 to a hundred and fifty individuals.
Vicuñas are polygynous, the dominant male mating with all mature females from his herd. The mating season begins in March or April. The gestation period is 330 to 350 days, and a single fawn is born. A fawn can stand just 15 minutes after being born. It stays shut beside its mom for 8 months or more, continuing to suckle until the age of 10 months and becoming impartial at around 12 to 18 months of age. Young males be part of bachelor groups and young females be a part of a sorority. Females are sexually mature at 2 years and some are nonetheless reproducing at 19 years.
Poaching takes place, the vicuña’s coat and products being smuggled in massive amounts to Asia and Europe. Habitat loss as a consequence of over-grazing from home livestock or human activities, such pollution of water sources and mining, is a further threat. Climate change could damage the fragile ecosystem the place the vicuña lives. A recent potential menace, in the Andes as well as worldwide, is the breeding of a vicuña and alpaca hybrid (a pacovicuña) for commercial purposes.
In keeping with the IUCN Red List, the total inhabitants measurement of the vicuña is 347,273 individuals, together with estimates for specific regions: Argentina: 127,072 or 72,678 individuals; Bolivia: 62,869 people; Chile: 16,942 people; Euador: 2,683 people; Peru: 188,327 individuals. Vicuñas’ numbers are increasing right now and they are categorized as least concern (LC) on the list of threatened species.
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