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Lone Vicuna

Lone Vicuna
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: 2001-07
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon EOS 1vHS, Canon 70-200 f 2.8 L USM, Fuji Provia 100
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2007-03-02 6:23
Viewed: 10389
Points: 14
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This is a scanned slide.

This photograph was taken at about 4000metres on the Peruvian Altiplano, to the north of Arequipa enroute to the Colca Canyon. I was photographing a group of Vicunas in the distance, with El Misti Volcano in the background when I noticed I was being watched by this lone male(?). I have seen Vicunas on two other occasions, but never so close as they are very shy.

The vicuña is a member of the camel family. It is the smallest of the six species of camel, and is thought to be the wild ancestor of the alpaca. It lives on the high, grassland plateaus of the Andes mountains, which range from southern Peru to northern Chile and into parts of Bolivia and Argentina, where tough bunch grasses and festuca grow. The sun's ultraviolet rays burn through the thin atmosphere during the day, whilst at night the heat of the day escapes into the atmosphere and the temperatures go down to freezing.

Although they look fragile, the vicuña is specially adapted to its high-altitude habitat. It has an incredibly thick, soft coat (that once resulted in it being hunted to the brink of extinction) that traps layers of warm air close to its body and protects it from freezing temperatures. The lower teeth of the vicuña grow constantly, like a rodent's, so they can eat the tough grasses. The vicuña also walks on the soles of its feet so it can flex its toes and grab on to the rocks and gravel-covered slopes. Vicuña milk is very rich so the young grow quickly.

Vicuñas weigh between 75-140 pounds. They are about 4-6 feet long and stand 2-3 1/2 feet at the shoulders. They have very long necks, round heads, and large, forward facing eyes. Their ears are long and pointed and stand up on their heads. Their fur is a rust colour, with white around the muzzle, the chest, belly, and the insides of the legs. The white hair on their chests is longer than their other hair.
Vicuñas are very shy animals and run away very quickly. They have two territories that they defend from other herds; a feeding territory or about 45 acres, and a smaller sleeping area on higher ground where they are more protected. The vicuña live in herds of 5-10 members, which includes one dominant male and several females and their young. They mate in March and April and their young are born 11 months later. The young stay with their mother and the herd for another 10 months, when they are driven off by the herd. Young males will form bachelor groups and the young females try to find another group to join. This ensures that the herd stays the same size, which is important with their limited food supply.

I will probably not be uploading anymore shots for about a week - I'll be in Morocco

Adanac, lovenature, Maite, Watershed has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2007-03-02 6:56]

Hi James,
Beautiful animal captured in his natural surroundings. Composition is excellent with the mountains in the background adding good depth. Thankls for sharing.

Hi James
Wow! What a great capture of this rare Vicuna. The colours are excellent, even the background colour is a nice compliment to the colour of the Vicuna. I just saw a program on TV about this area and how cold it gets at night -15C and how warm during the day +30. The Vicuna is a very hardy animal...cute too.
TFS Janice

  • Great 
  • Maite Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 998 W: 65 N: 1270] (5199)
  • [2007-03-02 12:20]

Excellent capture, James!
Very good sharpness and DOF and beautiful especimen. The note is very interesting.
Have a nice time in Morocco and come back soon!
Best wishes

Hello James,
I am delighted to read your detailed note on this attractive animal from South America.
The scanned image is just perfect. No blemishes anywhere.
I lke it a lot.
Thanks and take care.

Hi James,
Excellent capture and nicely composed. I like the DOF and the colours. Great job! TFS and have a good trip in Morocco,

great to see this one in nature, TFS Ori

  • Great 
  • sayat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 280 W: 0 N: 258] (1457)
  • [2007-03-05 10:54]

Dear James,
The depth of field and the overall composition of this shot is great.

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