Regardless of where you live, at some point or another, you’ve definitely seen a llama moving around. Whether you’re in New Zealand, England, or Canada, you don’t have to trek far before finding this majestic beast grazing peacefully.
Yes, llamas have become increasingly popular amongst livestock enthusiasts, but their history has not always been a bed of roses. In fact, the first recordings of llama domestication date back to the Incas during Pre-Columbian times.
As far back as 4500 BC, Llamas were under human submission in the New World in South America. They were used for food, transportation, and clothing by different tribes. These included the Chimu, Wari, Nazca, and Moche.
Nevertheless, the popularity of Llamas rose primarily because of their affiliation with the Incas. Not only were they beasts of burden, but also crucial sacrificial animals for Inca traditions and customs. In fact, the Inca would sacrifice over 100 camelids in the month of January, and another 100 in the following month.
Despite such massive sacrifices, the Incas ensured that the flocks survived and thrived by feeding them regularly, and not using any female llamas for sacrificial practices.
Unfortunately, once the Spanish conquest began, the natural llama population was exposed to all sorts of illnesses brought from Europe, as well as competition from sheep and goats brought from the mainland. It is believed that 80-90% of the llama’s natural population was wiped out during the Spanish conquest.
In recent times, the llama population has been able to turn things around thanks to the animals being used as beasts of burden, as well as active conservation measures being put in place.
Beyond South America, Llama populations have increased due to the beasts being used to protect livestock from small predators, as well as comfort animals to spread joy and happiness.
Moreover, in states like Oregon and North Carolina, Llamas are used as caddies at golf courses as visitors marvel at these lovely creatures leisurely sauntering as they chew grass.
Conclusively, it’s safe to say that the Llama is one of the few creatures to overcome the pressures of globalization and cement its status as an international animal traded all over the world. What was once thought to be an endangered species is now increase its population tenfold by gaining acceptance in the everyday life of human beings.
And though Africa does not have any indigenous Llamas, just remember that they are well represented by their close cousins the camel; an important beast of burden in Subsaharan Africa.