The vicuña represents a conservation success, arising from a significant increase in wild populations as well as remarkable results in fiber management and in participation of vicuna manager communities in Bolivia. However, there are new conservation challenges for the species and also new economic challenges and opportunities. This WCS experience highlights some key issues on the health, habitat and quality of vicuña fiber.
In order to evaluate the progress and achievements so far, and identify priority actions to ensure the conservation and sustainable management of vicuña, the Community Association for the Marketing of Vicuña Fiber (ACOFIV-Bolivia) carried out a technical workshop in La Paz, on January 9 and 10, with the participation of 26 representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Water, the General Directorate of Biodiversity, the National Service of Protected Areas, ACOFIV-Bolivia and other regional associations of vicuña managers as well as supporting institutions, including WCS.
The workshop concluded with the signing of a document that constitutes a strategic agreement to carry out a joint work plan between the state entities and the associations of vicuña managers, whose priority actions focus on the health of vicuña populations and domestic cattle, on habitat conservation, on the compatibility of this activity with other activities carried out in the communities, on the marketing of vicuña fiber and on the normative and institutional aspects.
WCS presented results of the vicuña censuses conducted in Apolobamba, advances on veterinary health studies and workshops, and with the support of Welttierschutgesellschaft (WTG), training on improving shearing techniques, which result in improvement of fiber quality. Additionally, WCS presented progress on the evaluation of the status of pastures, peatlands and water sources in this region, aiming to ensure conservation and good nutrition of vicuñas and domestic camelids. Currently, activities towards the integrated management of the vicuña population in Apolobamba are funded by the Darwin Initiative.