On September 26th, in the community of Puyo Puyo, municipality of Pelechuco, in the north of the department of La Paz, the 2021 season for the sustainable use of vicuña fiber was officially inaugurated throughout the country.
This activity has been carried out since 1998 and generates income from the sale and marketing of the fiber, benefiting 5,500 families from more than 100 vicuña management communities in the departments of La Paz, Oruro, Potosí, Cochabamba and Tarija.
National authorities from the Ministry of the Environment and Water, the National Protected Areas Service (SERNAP), the Association of Vicuña Handling Communities of Bolivia (ACOFIV), the Regional Association of Vicuña Handling Communities (ARCMV), and the Puyo Puyo communities participated in the inauguration. Also in attendance were authorities and technical personnel from the Apolobamba National Integrated Management Natural Area and WCS Bolivia, among others.
This year, 275 vicuña herding, capture and shearing events are planned nationwide. In Apolobamba, the Regional Association of Vicuña Handling Communities (ARCMV-A) will carry out 46 herding, capture and shearing events in 18 communities, with the goal of harvesting a minimum volume of 450 kilos of vicuña fiber. WCS's technical team will actively collaborate throughout the process of harvesting vicuña fiber in Apolobamba.
Since 2002, WCS has accompanied and supported population censuses in Apolobamba and other protected areas, in coordination with SERNAP. Since 2013, its efforts have been directed at evaluating the health status of vicuña populations, helping to reduce diseases such as mange.
José Luis Mollericona, WCS animal health and management specialist, explains that since 2019, support has also been provided in mechanized shearing, which allows for better fleece management, and in the process of pre- selection of the fiber, improving the quality obtained and the benefits for the communities. Similarly, in 2020, the current condition, supply and state of the natural grasslands and wetlands and their water sources were evaluated.
"The pre- selection process has allowed us to obtain better results during the commercialization of the fiber. Its cost, raw, is US$280 per kilo; with the pre-selection process, the price increases by almost US$100 per kilo," explains Humber Alberto, WCS technician in charge of capacity building in the integrated use and monitoring of the vicuña at ANMIN Apolobamba.