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South American camelid

Proyecto MACS

The MACS project aims to guide the sustainable harvest of the world’s most luxurious natural fibres – the natural fleece of the two wild species of South American camelid, the vicuña and the guanaco. Work on the project finished in 2005.

The team of scientists has been brought together by the EU INCO-DEV programme to develop practical guidelines and policy recommendations to help local people in the Andes of Chile, Argentina, Peru and Bolivia, to set up production systems for this luxury textile fibre.

There is a unique opportunity now to ensure that future production systems are both economically and ecologically sustainable and will reach the highest standards of animal welfare, while ensuring the best possible economic returns for camelid managers.

The MACS project addresses 5 main areas:

  • Utilisation systems
  • Economics and socio-cultural impacts
  • Environmental impacts
  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Networking and dissemination

details (pdf)

Management systems

Within the last 10 years a number of different systems have been established to manage wild camelids ranging from captures from the wild to farmed units. Research in the MACS project is identifying good management practices to ensure long-term health and welfare.



Production of fibre from camelids is a new enterprise for many Andean communities., as well as for the end-users of the fibre. Proyecto MACS is evaluating the contribution of different production systems to rural livelihoods and developing policy alternatives that will promote sustainable management practices.



The MACS project is identifying the impacts that management has on wild vicunas, and evaluating the potential and implications of future continued increases in vicuna populations


Conservation genetics

The vicuna population of the Andes is not homogeneous, comprising at least two sub-species, as well as a number of distinct genetic variants. In order that sustainable use programmes can preserve this important biodiversity, the MACS project is identifying and mapping the distribution of this variation.


This site is maintained by Jerry Laker for Proyecto MACS
Macaulay Land Use Research Institute
Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, AB15 8QH. UK