This course will permit students to become accomplished in the principal alpaca husbandry practices through daily work with a large alpaca herd. It will place alpacas, llamas and vicuñas in their historical and geographical contexts, and examine their potential as generators of income and environmental services.
We will have access to a herd of 500 alpacas in a beautiful setting in Ecuador located between 10,000 and 12,000 feet elevation. The landscape includes alpaca pastures, montane forest, and grassland páramos above tree line. The host ranch is part of a private conservation area, the Mazar Wildlife Reserve (MWR), owned and operated since 1982 by the instructor and located 100 road kilometers to the northeast of Cuenca.
The MWR is also an in-holding within Sangay National Park. Various locations, separated by walking distances of 1-3 hours, will be used for husbandry practices.
Students will be housed in rustic cabins, or personal tents if preferred. Basic services (electricity, gas stove, flush toilet, running water, road access), with the exception of Internet, will be available. Hikes between sites that traverse forests will be used to discuss the conservation opportunities provided by alpaca husbandry.
Although most of the course will take place on the Mazar Wildlife Reserve, where the alpaca ranch is located, a road trip to central Ecuador will focus on llama husbandry by indigenous communities, and provide a unique opportunity to view vicuñas at close range on the high páramo within the government’s Chimborazo Faunal Preserve.
For interested students, we will have the option to ascend to the climbing hut at 16,500’, in the glacial embrace of Mount Chimborazo.
The instructor, Stuart White, has lived in Ecuador for 35 years and raised alpacas on the MWR since 1985 after introducing them from Chile and Peru. He has also raised cattle, llamas and sheep. Stuart received a PhD in Geography at the University of Wisconsin in 1981 and subsequently taught Geography at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, until moving to Ecuador. In addition to raising alpacas, Stuart has spent his years in Ecuador doing conservation work, most in association with the Fundación Cordillera Tropical (www.cordilleratropical.org). Since 2010 Stuart has been a lecturer with the Geography Department at the UVM.
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Please contact the instructor if you have questions about the course content or activities: