You can thank scientists, concerned communities and a successful peace process for the spectacular recovery of the Peruvian vicuña, which has rebounded from a few thousand in the 1980s to hundreds of thousands across the country today.
Our story gets its start in Pampa Galera – Barbara D’Achille National Reserve, home to some of the worst violence of Peru’s civil war.
Named in part for a conservationist murdered for her activism in 1989 in a neighboring region, the reserve was abandoned by its managers for several years after 1988.
Poachers looking to cash in on the high value of vicuña wool in the international market went on to decimate the remaining herd.
But all that changed when peace returned to the region.
Now, 15,000 vicuñas roam the reserve and surrounding buffer zone, and are managed sustainably for their Vicuña Peru-branded wool.
The wool, which comes with a certificate of origin, is sold profitably to Loro Piana, a high-end Italian clothing company.
The 210 vicuña fur harvesters of the region have become even more ambitious, with plans to launch their own local clothing industry, rather than exporting the wool as a raw material.