The Guanaco (Llama guanicoe) is a wild camel native to South America. Though closely related to the llama, the guanaco has never been widely domesticated.
Guanacos can be found in mountainous regious of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia, and Chile. They are well suited to life at high elevations, and can often be found at up to 13,000 feet. To survive at these altitudes, guanacos have four times the number of red blood cells per unit as humans. Guanacos are some of the largest mammals’ native to South America and usually stand up to four feet tall at the shoulders and weigh 200lbs.
The typical guanaco family unit consists of one dominant male, several adult females and their young. Young or bachelor males may live in their own herds comprised of up to 50 animals. These herds spend their days grazing on grasses, leaves and buds that grow at high elevations.
Due to its size, the guanaco has only one natural predator; the mountain lion. However, guanacos are not typically easy prey. They are capable of running at speeds of 35 mph, are excellent swimmers, and males will stay behind a fleeing herd to defend their mates and young. Guanacos typically live for 20-25 years in the wild.
The current wild guanaco population is estimated to be between 400,000 and 600,000.
The guanaco’s wool is highly prized for its warmth and softness.