PACHA MAMA – THE ALPACA
The alpaca is a South American camel with a natural soft fiber of several color shades varying from black to white. The alpaca eyes are also of colors that vary from black, light brown to sky blue. The domestication of the vicuña, and its crossbreeding with the guanaco, gave origin to the alpaca and its presence in the Andean region as a domesticated animal goes back to 4000 years BC Currently the alpaca carries hybrid llama genes because its breeding takes place mostly in mixed herding place.
There are two types of alpaca breeds: The huancaya breed, with a shorter and curly fiber is the most abundant an the suri breed has a fiber that grows up to 40 cm long, and is finer and softer it is found almost exclusively in Puno and in a limited number the alpaca lives in the andean highlands, at more than 3800 meters above sea level, in areas that include Ecuador, Argentina and Chile. The largest number of alpacas worldwide, more than 3 millon is found in peru.
The alpaca fiber comes in a variety of at least 22 colors. According to market demands only white fiber alpacas were bred, thus reducing color variety. Nowadays, the value of color fiber is being considered again.
Training of alpaca breeders is oriented to have improved breeding skills, with the expextation that in the near future this great highland resource may be an important income source.