Introduction

Camelids comprise three genera of Camelus found exclusively in the Old World; Lama and Vicugna in the New World or South America of the Camelidae family, including four domesticated species: (1) domestic Bac-trian or two-humped camels (C. bactrianus; Linnaeus, 1758), (2) dromedaries, or Arabian or one-humped camels (C. dromedarius; Linnaeus, 1758), (3) llamas (L. glama; Linnaeus, 1758), and (4) alpacas (V. pacos; formerly L. pacos; Linnaeus, 1758); and three wild species: wild Bactrian camels (C. ferus or C. bactrianus ferns; Przewalski, 1883), guanacos (L. guanicoe; Muller, 1776), and vicunas (V. vicugna; Molina, 1782). The overlap in distribution of domestic Bactrian camels and dromedaries is limited to small areas in central Asia. However, the distribution of all four of the South American camelids overlap in large areas in the Andes. The Old World camels may produce fertile hybrids. Hybridizations among all four South American species have also been confirmed through DNA analyses. Today, domestic camelid rearing is central to the economies of the poorest nomads in dry and cold Central Asia, dry and hot Middle East and North Africa, and the high and chilly Andes.

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