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Trade in Vicuña Fibre

Implications for Conservation and Rural Livelihoods

image of Trade in Vicuña Fibre

Once overhunted and on the brink of extinction, the vicuña species (a small member of the camelid family) is thriving again in South America’s Andes region. The decision to grant usufructory rights to communities to shear and sell vicuña fibre increased their economic incentive to sustainably manage and protect the species. As a result, vicuña populations have recovered and trade has grown by 78% since 2007, which is generating income for Andean rural communities and textile-processing sectors. This study maps the value chain, assesses the factors that have helped the species recover, and identifies current challenges facing the vicuña fibre trade, including the distribution of benefits and threats to conservation.

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Executive summary

Since pre-Colombian times, the fibre sheared from the vicuña animal (a small member of the camel family) has been an important resource for local communities across South America’s Andes High Plain region. When overhunting threatened to drive the species to extinction, several countries, with strong leadership from Peru, spearheaded national and international measures starting in the 1970s that have helped to repopulate the vicuña species and reinvigorate sustainable local livelihoods in the region.

English

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