Prized for its fine fleece, this wild camelid is native to the high alpine areas of the Andes mountain region in South America. A relative to the llama and ancestor of alpacas, vicuñas are the smallest of their species. They are found throughout the four countries that share borders with the Andes ranges - Argentina, Chile, Peru and Bolivia. Because of their nomadic nature of feeding, they have a very low impact on the environment and are the most important herbivores in the region.
Vicuñas yield an intensely soft, delicate wool used for fine clothing and blankets. It has a very unique hand which is often regarded as the softest fiber in the world - vastly surpassing cashmere.
Coming close to extinction in the early 1970's, aggressive conservation efforts have helped revive the vicuña population with about 350,000 in the wild. They are, however, carefully protected by laws that restrict how and when they are sheared, and restricted from poaching.
For more information on the vicuñas and conservation efforts to help protect their existence, visit http://www.vicam.org.ar/index.html.