The alpaca, whose official name
is 'Lama Pacos', entered into the lives of humans
some 5,000 years ago, when Andean civilizations began
to domesticate this member of the camel family. Today,
the alpaca, also related to the llama, is the basis
of a global industry.
A bit of Internet surfing turns
up a great deal of information about this animal that
is identified with South America's Andes Mountains.
The surprise is that many of the web
sites are produced by alpaca
farms in places ranging from Australia to the
United States, Canada to Spain.
This craze was sparked by the
commercial discovery of the high quality of alpaca
wool, a fact that has been known since remote times
by the indigenous peoples of Peru, Bolivia and Chile,
where more than 90 percent of the alpaca population
is concentrated, believed to number more than three
Although by the mid-19th century,
alpaca wool was already known by some European textile
companies, the "boom" that is evident today
dates only to the 1980s, when commercial alpaca farms
began to spring up across the United States.
Internet sites about this business,
such as Alpaca.com,
offer all sorts of information about this South American
species, and about the risks of investing in breeding
this animal for its prized wool. There are on-line
sales of alpaca products and even auctions to buy
these animals, some of which sell for as much as 20,000
are small camelids, a word that reveals its similarity
to camels found in other regions of the world. In
South America, this family includes llamas, vicuñas
In the high altitudes of the
Andes Mountains, many indigenous communities make
their living by raising these animals. The alpaca
is particularly important because it is a species
that can be domesticated and produces great quantities
The existence of non-Andean alpacas,
those that are raised outside their region of origin,
creates an uncertain future for the indigenous shepherds.
Some experts predict that by the year 2030 there will
be more alpacas in other places around the world,
and will thus monopolize the global markets for their
of Domestic Camelids
First comes the calm, and then
the fury is unleashed. In the center of it all could
be a tornado, a natural storm formation that spins
at incredible speed and always - like in the movies
- seems unstoppable as it approaches.
Tornados are a natural phenomenon
that can occur in many
parts of the world, and there have been tornado-related
catastrophes in Asia and Europe, as well as the Americas.
site of a British research institute keeps watch
over that region, where records of the phenomenon
date back to the 11th century.
But the United States is the
principal stage for these violent storms. In one year,
there may be 1,000 tornados, claiming 80 lives and
leaving 1,500 injured, according to the web site of
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
A tornado is a column of air
that spins at violent speed as a result of the meeting
of cold and warm weather fronts. The cone-shaped formation
can move at great speeds across the Earth's surface.
There are a series of standards
in place to protect the population from tornados,
whose intensity is measured on a system known as the
Scale. The United States has an emergency system
that activates sirens when a tornado is detected.
But sometimes they can spring up without warning.
The dramatic meteorological phenomenon
has given rise to movies and there are even some adventuresome
tourists who take part in "safaris"
to hunt down tornados.
A safer spot to view tornados
as in a chair in front of a computer, where you can
browse the great
number of Internet sites featuring these storms,
beginning with those that explain how
they come about.
Tornado and Storm Research Organisation
Project: Worldwide Tornadoes
All about tornadoes
The disquieting silhouette of
the rhinoceros has been seen on this planet since
time immemorial, evolving over tens of millions of
years, but is now in danger of disappearing forever
because of human activities.
"Are we losing 60 million
years of evolution?" wonders the World Wildlife
Fund on its web
site, pointing out that dozens of rhinoceros species
inhabited the earth at one time. Today there are only
five species remaining, and all are threatened with
A statistical figure serves as
an example: in 1960 the savannahs of Africa were home
to more than 100,000 black rhinoceros. Today there
are just 2,600 left. Poachers and hunters have decimated
Millions of years ago, the rhinoceros
cut a colossal figure, and was particularly notable
for its horns. The five species existing today include
the black and the white, both of Africa, and the India,
Java and Sumatra rhinos in Asia.
All of these species belong to
family. According to figures found on the Internet,
the total rhino population in the wild is 12,000 to
16,000, while there are more than 1,000 in captivity
in zoos and other sites worldwide.
The dangers confronting the survival
of the rhinoceros have led to numerous initiatives
at the international level to save these unique animals.
The World Conservation Union
(IUCN) has groups
of experts monitoring these species, and the Convention
on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
has convened all countries to
take action to prevent the continued reduction of
the rhino population.
This concern is evident in the
of information on the rhino that can be found
on the Internet, including the website of the International
Rhino Foundation, which that is quick to point
out the danger confronting this species: they are
hunted to feed the demand of a market in Asia, where
the rhino horns are used for medicinal and ornamental
Big Zoo.com - Rhinos
Rhino Specialist Groups
Save the Rhinos
Conservation of and trade in rhinos
Web directory - Rhinos