Peru’s southern Andean region reported freezing temperatures during July, killing over 171,000 alpacas as a result.
“Around 171,850 alpacas have died of which 9,060 were adult and around 162,790 are infants. We have linked the causes to freezing temperatures, reported below zero degrees,”German Quispe, director of the Regional Emergency Operations Center, for the Puno department, commented.
“When the ground freezes over under the snow, the grasslands remain under a layer of ice, leaving the animals without food.”
Puno’s regional government has declared a state of emergency.
The country’s Puno state, bordering with Bolivia, is home to the greatest number of alpacas in Peru.
Wool produced by Peru’s alpacas is in great demand from China, Japan, Italy and the United Kingdom’s textile markets. The wool is sold locally at $3 per half a kilo, which can reach $300 for the equivalent amount on the international market.
“The producers couldn’t use the wool from the dead animals because the majority were infants, and smaller animals don’t produce much wool,” Quispe added.
However, the regional government in Peru’s Huancavelica department has come up with a novel solution to the freezing temperatures.
Over 20,000 thermal jackets will be distributed to infant alpacas across the region.
Governor Glodoaldo Álvarez confirmed that the first 5000 jackets have already been distributed, free of charge, to the more remote Andean regions.
Peru’s National Agricultural Census (Cenagro 2012) reports that the country has a total of 3,685,516 alpacas. From Peru’s total alpaca population, 99 percent are owned by small farmers.
“The project will be implemented in the 13 provinces and 55 alpaca herder districts in the region, with a total of 10 million soles to be spent annually,” Governor of Puno Juan Luque Mamani announced.
In Latin America, Bolivia is home to the region’s second-largest alpaca population.
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