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The Alpaca

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 million.

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, 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 dollars.

Alpacas 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 and guanacos.

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 of wool.

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 special wool.

Alpaca Facts
Origin of Domestic Camelids
International Alpaca Association
Alpaca Nation
Alpaca links
Yahoo!: Alpaca Breeders


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. A web 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 the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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 Fujita 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.

NOAA: Tornados
British Tornado and Storm Research Organisation
Discovery: Tornado
Tornado Links
Tornado Project
Tornado Project: Worldwide Tornadoes
Fujita Scale
NOAA: All about tornadoes
Tornado Safari

The Rhinoceros

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 extinction.

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 the population.

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 the Rhinocerotidae 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 numerous sources 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 purposes.

Portal: SOS Rhino
International Rhino Foundation
Family: Rhinocerotidae
The Big - Rhinos
IUCN: Rhino Specialist Groups
WWF: Save the Rhinos
CITES: Conservation of and trade in rhinos
Rhino Mall
Google: Web directory - Rhinos



Copyright © 2001 Tierramérica. Todos los Derechos Reservados






















Source: NOAA
Source: NOAA


















Source: USFWS
Source: USFWS