Herding On Motorbikes

It’s not unheard of for Quad bikes, Motorbikes or even Scooters and Mopeds to be used in rounding up sheep, but in Peru they round up Vicunas using Motorbikes.

Vicunas are related to Llama and Alpacas, Every two years Vicunas are herded on Motorbikes for biennial shearing in Bolivia. Vicunas live in the Alpine regions of the Andes. The Inca valued vicunas highly for their wool, and it was against the law for anyone but royalty to wear vicuna garments.

Motorbikes are increasingly being used to round up livestock, in many instances when rounding up of livestock only takes place once or twice a year. Farmers and herders who use sheep dogs have to take care of the dogs for the rest of their lives.

Motorbikes are used in Peru because of the terrain, but on flat lands Mopeds and Scooters are being increasingly used because they are cheap to purchase and run.

About a hundred men and women Aymara villagers conduct a frenetic chase to round up wild vicunas for shearing, an event which lasts four days.With the assistance of motorbikes, the residents of Ucha Ucha, 167 miles northwest of Bolivian capital La Paz, form giant human cordons to round up the animals to harvest their fine fur, which produces one of the world’s most expensive wools.

The community makes an offering to the Pachamama (Mother Earth), before the motorcycles herd the animals into a corral made with sticks and netting, where the vicunas are held for about five hours before they are released.Two men hold each vicuna down while another shears its fur. With luck they can gather 40 kilograms of wool in a day.

“This is our industry, the vicuna, we’ve been doing it for 10 years. It’s a renewable resource, it’s not like gold, gold isn’t renewable, that’s why we don’t have a mine in our community here,” said Gregorio Blanco, head of the shearers.

Ucha Ucha residents say they made about £188 per family in the last shearing in 2011 and expect to make about the same this year.

In some parts of Peru Vicunas are sheared when their fur gets longer than 2.5cm to prevent poaching. The fur of Vicunas is adapted to coping with freezing temperatures, its layers trap warm air. This is what makes its yarn so valuable.

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