Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Many articles, government publications, and a fairly lengthy book have been written about the vicuña (hereafter vicugna), as can be seen by the bibliography, which is in no way exhaustive. What I try to do here is bring together several factors that have not, to my knowledge, been documented in one article; the sociological and cultural aspects of the altiplano (high plains) community which is affected by the PEURV (Proyect Especial por la Utilization Racional de la Vicugna); some of the political and economic aspects of the campesino's life; the vicugna and its environmental adaption to the harsh puna (high altitude grasslands) environment; and in addition briefly touch on some aspects of rural development project design philosphy.

I do not profess to be an expert 1n any of the professions of anthropology, sociology, economics, politics, or project design. My true interest lies with the puna ecology, yet it 1s the strong sense of community that draws me to South America in the first place. The fact that al I the topics have not been simultaneously discussed in regards to PEURV is a big statement in itself; i.e., there is a basic lack of design considerations which pertain to socioecological aspects of the situation. This bodes ii I for the success of PEURV, and it is my hope that others with more expertise in the above areas will eventually pull it all together. For me bringing these ideas together embodies the turn my interests have taken while at USU, a holistic approach to pastoralism.

The second aim of this paper is to cover two aspects of PEURV with which I had more personal experience; vicugna shearing and preliminary work in fiber classification.

I wish to mention that the information base on vicugnas is replete with varied or even conflicting data and I have done my best to present it accurately, providing an average or the most modest statistic whenever possible. For example, I spent a week translating information on the Agrarian Reform of 1969 only to find that merely 2O% of the peasants were affected by it. Realizing that many of the sources here are difficult to track down I try to portray the information well, but extend apologies for any gross errors in translation--literal or verbal-- or misunderstanding of technical information that was over my head. Also, this being my first attempt at a project, there were some facts that I did not procure at the time because I did not know I was going to need them, so information is not always complete or from my own experience. Finally, I regret not having more hands-on experience, but due to my shy nature I was reluctant to barge into a situation like shearing and try some different approaches; mainly because of my female sex 1n a very macho situation; i.e., I tried to be discreet.



Faculty Mentor

Phil Urness