Guanacos, Parque Nacional Pali Aike


The other large animal of the steppes is the guanaco. Beautiful to behold and graceful when running, the adults stand about 3.5 feet high at the shoulder and weigh about 240 lbs.

They feed primarily on grasses but also eat the leaves of shrubs , softer herbaceous vegetation, and lichens. They get most of their water from the vegetation they eat. They can run extended distances at up to 35 mph and this is the way the avoid their natural predators (mostly mountain lions). Conservationists consider them to be vulnerable. The worst of the excessive hunting (the original population of about 30 million was reduced down to about one-half million). Of more importance at present is the destruction of their steppe habitat by sheep ranching.

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