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Guanacos Camels Llamas Alpacas and Vicuñas: Camelidae

Camelids And People

Camelids have been used for transportation as well as a food and clothing source for about seven thousand years. They are especially valuable as transportation in the North African and Asian deserts because they can travel up to 100 miles (161 kilometers) without water. They are also able to carry heavy loads and still keep a steady pace.

Camels are a sign of wealth to some desert populations. These species provide humans with milk, meat, and wool used to make clothing, blankets, and tents. The fat can be removed from their humps and melted for use in cooking.

Llamas and alpacas were domesticated thousands of years ago. Alpacas were first imported to the United States in 1984, and in 2004 there were more than fifty thousand registered alpacas in the United States. Llamas are believed to be domesticated, tamed, by about 4,000 B.C.E.

Vicuñas were used in religious rituals in the Inca empire. Guanacos provided food, hides, and fibers for South American cultures, but they have never been domesticated.


According to Lisa Olsen, an alpaca rancher in North Carolina, pregnant female alpacas can sell for $12,000 to $22,000 each. That is a nice profit considering that they are not very expensive to feed, since they live on hay, grass, and grains.

According to the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association, the record for the highest dollar sale of a male alpaca was set in 2002, when a sire sold for $265,000. Like any other livestock ranching, alpaca breeding is a business, and it is gaining popularity.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsGuanacos Camels Llamas Alpacas and Vicuñas: Camelidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Camelids And People, Conservation Status, Dromedary Camel (camelus Dromedarius): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT