Notes on the Peruvian Llama

February 19, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Llamas like this are commmon in Peru and other parts of South America, and often enough play the role of human companions. (Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)
Llamas like this are commmon in Peru and other parts of South America, and often enough play the role of human companions. (Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)
LIMA, Peru—Long before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores to Peru, and even before the rise of the Incan Impire, there lived in the Peruvian Andes a quadruped of the genus camelid considered a “miracle of nature.”

Living between 3500 and 5000 meters altitude, llamas are able to endure the coldest temperatures.

At just a little over 3 feet tall, they can transport inordinate amounts of weight compared to size.  They posses a very acute sense of measurement which enables them to know exactly how much weight they can carry—when the weight surpasses the physical capability, the lama will sit on the ground and refuse to get up until its load is diminished.

When carrying a load of reasonable weight the lama can walk firmly for hours in the Andes along very narrow paths, defying peaks, ravines and cliffs; a challenge no other animal could surmount.

Lamas are resistant and tame, but also stubborn. Although not very frequent, when upset, they rise on their hind legs and spit saliva that can sting the skin.

The llama is the only native South American animal that has been domesticated, and since time immemorial it has been the inseparable companion to the Peruvians living in the Andes.

They are used for transporting loads, in milk production, for their meat, wool, and hoofs; they also fertilize the land.  They colors span whites, blacks and reddish browns, and they not only decorate the high plateaus of Peru, but are also an inseparable part of its landscape. Watching them walk in lines, one can travel through ages far away, as if time had stood still.