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Pre-Hispanic cultures had something that was lost over time: respect for nature . The awareness that resources are scarce and that the earth is our home, and it is the only one we have, was perhaps the ones that allowed them to develop and expand. An example of this is Chaku , an ancient vicuña shearing technique that is still being used today.
Vicuña is an animal that was in danger of extinction and is now protected. It lives in the Puna and the Antiplano, at more than 3500 meters above sea level. Its coat is one of the finest fibers in the world . It makes products of high commercial value, in an artisanal way and without affecting the environment.
Chaku is a technique used in the times of the Inca Empire , which allows animals to be sheared without the need to kill them . After removing the fiber, they are released. This technique continues to be used in the Puna until today.
It all starts with the “ Pre-Chaku”, which is the necessary prior planning, since the capture of the vicuña is risky. Between 60 and 100 people work together with technicians and scientists to manage these animals in the best way, very sensitive to scare and stress. There are many collections you need to have to make this sustainable shearing.
It should be performed only in spring, when the weather conditions are better: it is hotter, rains have not yet started, but it stopped snowing. Pregnants at the last stage of gestation are not sheared, nor young younger than one year. They must wait at least two years to re-shear the same vicuña and verify that his hair has grown a minimum of three centimeters.
In this way, through a sustainable procedure, this millennial tradition of Chaku allows to preserve wild vicuñas, which are an important renewable natural resource and a socioeconomic alternative for the communities of La Puna.
Publication Date: 08/02/2020
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