Jim Coda Nature Photography

Guanaco, Patagonia

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A guanaco in Torres del Paine National Park

When my two friends and I went to Torres del Paine National Park to photograph pumas in May of 2016 the animal we saw most often was the guanaco.  The guanaco is a camel-like animal.  It stands 3 to 4 feet at the shoulder and weighs 200 to 300 lbs.  It is the primary large prey species of the puma in Patagonia.

Guanacos live in herds composed of females, their young, and a dominant male.  When they see a puma, they alert the herd to flee with a high-pitched, bleating call.  We were always listening for those calls and we heard them fairly frequently.

In writing this I paid a quick visit to Wikipedia.  I knew that in addition to guanacos there are similar camelid animals called called llamas, vicunas and alpacas in South America.  However, I was surprised to learn that guanacos are the wild parent of the domestic llama.  Likewise, the vicuna is the wild parent to the domesticated alpaca.  In that way they are like the wild caribou and its domesticated descendant, the reindeer.  At least I knew that relationship.

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