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PERU, 2017-2019

In Peruvian Andes, the vicuñas  - small,  elegant camelids with soft golden fleece - used to roam in peace. It didn't take long for the Spanish 'conquistadors' to find out how precious that fleece was. The 'discovery' of this value led to a gradual killing that brought the vicuñas near extinction. 

By the mid-20th Century, vicuna overcoats were considered a luxury in the US and Europe. Animal's populations plummeted to fewer than 10,000, putting them on the path to extinction. It's believed that by the 60's, no more than 7000 animals were left in Peru.

In 1975, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species banned all international commerce of vicuna products. Still, poachers were undeterred, driven by the high prices on the black market – around $1,000 a kilo. Enforcement of laws was nearly impossible: the vicuna habitat was far too vast and remote to patrol. The population continued to disappear.

Inca culture, however, had already created a solution for this issue. 

By recovering this ancient knowledgement, vicunas downgraded to 'least concern on the list of threatened species, becoming one of the few species that recovered from being endangered. 

"I hope my grandchildren have a better future than their parents and me. I'm not sure if I want them to leave the village, but as long as he doesn't forgive who he really is, I will be happy for him. I'd like him to help the village to grow and that he teaches other children what he has learned. "

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