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Why is the Vicuna in Peru’s national shield?

The vicuna, the alpaca and the llama are world known camelids that represent the south American Andes. But the vicuna has a special meaning for Peru, it's not only the country with more specimens but it's also part of one of the patriotic symbols: the national shield.


As Peruvian clothing manufacturers, we would like to share with you the reason why this animal is Peru’s national shield. Continue reading!


How did the Vicuna turn into a national symbol?


In 1825, Hipólito Unanue and José Gregorio, influenced by the French illustration, proposed to include in the national shield elements that represent the natural wealth of Peru. That’s how the vicuna, famous for its fine wool became the species that represents the animal kingdom.


From that year on, the vicuna was never removed from the shield and it's now also part of the most important document in the country: the ID.

You might also like: The Alpaca Industry in Peru

Vicuna importance in Peru

The vicuna is a beautiful camelid with one of the finest fibers in the world and because of that, one of the most expensive textiles. From ancestral times, the vicuna has had great socioeconomic and cultural importance for the Andean communities and it is a species protected by international and national law. Peru is the first producer of vicuna’s fiber in the world.


The vicuna has a high economic value because of its fine fiber and all the knitwear it can be made with. This animal lives away from the people, in desertic areas. It is smaller than the alpaca with 1.8 meters of height and it can weigh around 40 or 50 kilograms.


It has a light brown color with white on the back and paws. These colors change depending on the regions where they live.


We can find vicunas in these Peruvian regions: Áncash, Apurímac, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Cusco, Huancavelica, Huánuco, Ica, Junín, La Libertad, Lima, Moquegua, Pasco, Puno and Tacna.


The vicunas have long and thin legs fit to walk over different kinds of surface, even rocky ones. This animal lives on the highlands, more than 3.200 meters above sea level with dry and cold weather. Like other camelids, the vicuna is herbivore.


According to the last vicuna’s census made in 2012, there are 208.899 specimens in the Peruvian territory. It is estimated that those numbers have doubled and a new census is pending.

The most fine fiber in the world

Vicuna’s fiber measure is of 15 diameter micrometers. The fur of this camelid is thick, formed by thin fibers that grow together with the aim to protect the animal from cold, rain and wind.


Since 1994, there have been legal activities of capture and shearing. This is also known as “Chaccu” in Quechua, an ancestral practice that now takes place in authorized communities under the control and supervision of the Estate.


A vicuna can be sheared every two years and every shearing can produce around 200 grams of fiber. A productive life for a vicuna is 12 years, that means 6 shearing’s.


The Andean communities are in charge of their own merchandising. Few kilograms of vicuna’s fiber can reach more than 400 euros in the international market.


The vicuna is an important and relevant species in Peru because it involves 331 Andean organizations for its production and it has made the country an international reference for a successful recuperation and conservation of an endangered species.


Hope you enjoyed this article! Here at Knit-Lab Peru we are committed to offer premium quality products that combine modern technology with ancestral tradition. Contact us if you want to learn more or work with us.


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