Wonders Of Llamas, by Roger Perry
It is remarkable that this book is part of a series, but it is part of a lengthy series of books that show the wonderful aspects of various kinds of animals. It should be noted as well, that as is frequent when llamas are being written about, the book is not merely about llamas, but about the entire family of animals called the camelids of whom llamas are the most familiar and best-known example. It must be admitted that not only are there llamas, alpacas, guanacos, and vicunas to pay attention to, but also hybrids between these various animals. It should also be noted that the major division in the family is between those members which are domesticated and found in captivity and are fairly common (llamas and alpacas), and the far more rare species which are only found in the wild and are vulnerable because of habitat loss (vicunas and guanacos). For those who are fans of these creatures, llamas have a lot of wonders, and among the wonders is that animals which are so foul tempered and so limited as beasts of burden in that they cannot bear the weight of human beings should be domesticated. Along with the camel, the llamas and alpacas represent perhaps the most difficult cases of animals that have been domesticated.
This book is a relatively short one at 100 pages, and it is divided into nine chapters. The first chapter looks at the world of the llamas, showing the range of the llamas and their kin in South America, mostly in the high regions of the Andes or the areas close to it (1), including remotely. After that there is a discussion of the llamas as the daughters of of the yellow sand (2), and how it is that the obscure and timid guanacos have served as nomads on the plain, facing the struggle to preserve their range as people and other animals have expanded their range in the area (3). This leads to a discussion of the vicuna and its life in the high Andes (4), where it has sought to preserve itself away from others. The author has a chance to talk about the royal hunts of the Incas (5) as well as the presence of the llamas and related animals in various myths and art in South America (6). This is followed by a discussion of the alpaca wool industry (7) and efforts at getting llamas and alpacas to grow outside of their native lands. Finally, the book ends with a discussion of llamas and alpacas as livestock of the local population of South America (8), and a hope for the recovery of the enangered vicunas (9) before the book ends with an index.
There are at least a few aspects of this book that demonstrate the wonders of the llamas. The author, for example, is deeply interested in llama psychology, pointing out that like camels, llamas and their kin will refuse to bear a larger burden than they can handle, and that they are widely recognized as being fierce animals that do not get along with most people and are not nearly as cuddly as human beings would prefer once they are adults. In addition to this interest in llama psychology, the author demonstrates himself knowledgeable in the ways that the fate of llamas and alpacas (as well as vicunas and guanacos) has been dependent on the behavior of human beings. This was true when the animals were hunted and actively managed to preserve their numbers by the Incas, and also true when alpaca wool was turned into a useful textile, even as the guanaco found its range limited in Patagonia by the increase of sheep herding, even as the vicuna has faced being endangered because its range has been contracted into fragmented areas of the Andes. Even so, the author expresses his own personal familiarity with the vicuna and his happiness at seeing such animals in the wild, which is a wonder in itself.