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Vicunas Fleeing

Vicunas Fleeing
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-01-01
Categories: Mammals, Desert, Mountain
Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds MkII, Canon 400mm 2.8 IS
Exposure: f/7.1, 1/1600 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2009-12-16 13:42
Viewed: 5905
Points: 32
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I have been very busy recently - hence the lack of posts. I rether liked this shot of fleeing vicunas at around 4,200m asl. The shores of the laguna were deserted apart from us and the wildlife - until a noisey family with young children turned up!

The vicuņa (Vicugna vicugna Molina) or vicugna is one of two wild South American camelids, along with the guanaco, which live in the high alpine areas of the Andes. It is a relative of the llama, and is now believed to be the wild ancestor of domesticated alpacas, which are raised for their fiber. Vicuņas produce small amounts of extremely fine wool, which is very expensive because the animal can only be shorn every 3 years. When knitted together, the product of the vicuņa's fur is very soft and warm. It is understood that the Inca raised vicuņas for their wool, and that it was against the law for any but royalty to wear vicuņa garments.

Both under the rule of the Inca and today, vicuņas have been protected by law. Before being declared endangered in 1974, only about 6,000 animals were left. Today, the vicuņa population has recovered to about 125,000, and while conservation organizations have reduced its level of threat, they still call for active conservation programs to protect population levels from poaching, habitat loss, and other threats.

Vicuņas live in the grasslands and plains in the mountain regions at an altitude of 4,000 to 5,500 meters. There are many places they live but one usual place where they can be found is in the grassy plains of the Andes Mountains. In these areas, only nutrient-poor, tough bunch grasses and Festuca grow. The sun's rays are able to penetrate the thin atmosphere producing relatively warm temperatures during the day; however, the temperatures drop down to freezing at night. The vicuņa's thick but soft coat is a special adaptation which traps layers of warm air close to its body so it can tolerate the freezing temperatures there short or long.

The behaviour of the vicuņa is similar to that of the guanaco. Vicuņas are very shy animals and are easily aroused by intruders, due among other things to their extraordinary hearing. Like the guanaco, it will frequently lick calcareous stones and rocks, which are rich in salt, and it will also drink salt water. Its diet consists mainly of low grasses which grow in clumps on the ground.

Vicuņas live in family-based groups made up of a male, and 5 to 15 females and their young. Each group has its own territory of about 18 kmē, which can fluctuate depending on the availability of food.

Mating usually occurs in March-April, and after a gestation period of about 11 months the female gives birth to a single fawn, which is nursed for about 10 months. The fawn becomes independent at about 12 to 18 months. Young males will form bachelor groups and the young females search for a sorority to join. Along with preventing intraspecific competition, this also prevents inbreeding which can cause a population bottleneck in endangered species as observed with cheetahs.

roges, Heaven, rousettus, rcrick, ramthakur, loot, zulfu, nasokoun, MMM, CeltickRanger, Luis52, uleko, Miss_Piggy, boreocypriensis, horia has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • roges Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 957 W: 0 N: 1329] (6264)
  • [2009-12-16 14:01]

Hi James,
Again a very interesting picture. Details and good colors!
Excellent description provided, congratulations.
Have a pleasant evening,

  • Great 
  • Heaven Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 996 W: 123 N: 2341] (7912)
  • [2009-12-16 14:30]

Dear James!

I'm so glad to see you back and hope that you are doing well! You present us a superb wildlife picture taken in a wonderful nature. The environment is as beautiful as the animals and I appreciate your notes very much.

Welcome back!

Kind regards


Hello James
nice to see you again. welcome back my friend. you returned with a great shot of lovely Vicunas from altitude of 4,200m of Atacama. Great composition and colors. thanks for sharing.
I will wait your new shots.
best wishes

Hi James,

Great to see you back posting mate, superb shot of these vicuņa in their natural environment, stunning vista, beautiful colours excellent d.o.f, does look a little chilly, all the best,

Cheers Rick :)

It is good to see you once in a while on TN, James.
I too am rather irregular here for the past six months due to work.
Vicunas of South America look like Llamas from this distance in your picture. Your note, however, throws ample light on this species on animals.
I like the contrasts in the image.
Best regards.

  • Great 
  • loot Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
  • [2009-12-16 19:53]

Hi James

I too have not been much on the site for this past year, but fortunately my project at
work is nearing its end so I could afford to do a couple of postings this last few weeks.
It's good to see a posting from you again MF. A wonderful natural scenario of these
Vicuņas. I also run away from noisy kids so I can understand why these animals
showed you their backsides only (chuckle). The 3 layers adds to a lovely composition.

Well done and TFS.

  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2009-12-16 22:51]

Hello James, welcome back with this superb shot of these wild South American camelids with excellent composition, details and colours.
TFS and G's,

hello James, nice to see you again!
comes with a atmospheric photo, a scene in a hard landscape, beautiful output, very good presentation!
keep photographing! TFS

  • Great 
  • MMM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1114 W: 0 N: 2546] (11425)
  • [2009-12-17 6:54]

Hi James
Welcome back.Beautiful image of those vicunas (never seen them before)in there natural habitat.Great POV and sharp image.Colors are outstanding
TFS Michel

hello James

i am happy to see again nature photos from you,
excellent photo of these South American wild animals,
with fine POV, DOF and framing, i love that we also
see on the photo their habitat, excellent sharpness & details,



  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2009-12-17 17:32]

Hola James.
Muy hermosa foto. Debe ser diicil conseguir una imagen como esta, y por tal motivo merece gran admiracion a quien la logro.
Felicidades James.

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2009-12-17 22:37]

Hello James,
I'm glad you're still with us and hope you'll soon get more time for TN! A very beautiful but bleak landscape in fantastic colours showing the little crowd of elegant Vicunas. Very interesting note too!
TFS and have a nice weekend, Ulla

Hallo James
Yes, we surely miss your presence and educational postings on the site. You are our Geography educator by ways of your postings. I for one, miss your valuable contributions.
When I saw this image only as a thumbnail, the first thought that came to mind, is that the scene reminds me of a Christmas card with the 3 wise men and their camels on the cover, don't ask me why, it just did. Upon opening the image, I was surprised to see these animals called Vicunas, as I cannot recall that I have seen this type before, and if I did, I forgot all about it. They are fascinating and somewhat reminds me of Lamas. I then read in your note that they are related. It is a beautiful scene, as I very much like the size of the 4 animals in comparison with the huge mountains in the background; as it seems if they are overpowered by the size of the mountains. A great image, with I enjoyed looking at. Thanks for sharing. Best regards.

Hi Bro James! welcome back! Nice to see you here again.
Hope all everything is going on well for you and family!
This one is utterly amazingly beautiful capture of these cute fella while they are walking! This is also an impressive scen shot too.
TFS and have a nice WE!


Hi James,
The desolate feel to this photo is most wonderful. The colors are of the wite salt flat and the blue mountain hue are magnificent. I like the frozen action of the vicunas and the effect caused by the tele lens.

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2009-12-26 8:15]

Hi James

Sorry for being a little late fir this, but i want to take this opportunity and wish a Happy Christmas and only the best and good health for the Next Year!
As for this shot, what can i say more? :) I'm amazed to see and read such things at such a high altitude. Having walked on some mountains that we Romanians consider high here, i'm dazzled to visit some of the places you mention about and explore such sights myself someday. Thanks for opening my eyes once more :)

Warmest regards

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