The origin of South American camelids dates back millions of years, from the time of the great exchange between continents to the migration that occurred from North America to give rise to the genera Lama and Vicugna, the most important native wild herbivores of South America, from which originated the 4 species of camelids that we currently know.
In investigations to locate the early domestication sites of South American camelids, the Peruvian-Bolivian highlands, the Titicaca basin and the Junín puna (pampas that surround the lake) have been suggested, where the large number of bones found in excavations carried out in caves (Uchcumachay, Panalauca, Pachamachay, Acomachay and Telarmachay). Here it has been possible to verify changes in the use of wild animals and the increasing dependence on camelids. The process from knowing the habits of the camelids to their control and semi-domestication could have taken place between 5,500 and 4,200 years B.C. Subsequently, greater control over the herds was developed (2500 to 1750 BC) until their domestication (Formative period or Early Horizon)
South American camelids comprise four species: the llama (Lama glama Linnaeus, 1758); the alpaca (Lama pacos Linnaeus, 1758); the guanaco (Lama guanicoe Müller, 1776) and the vicuña (Vicugna vicugna Molina, 1782). Of these four, the llama and the alpaca are domestic species, while the guanaco and the vicuña are wild species.
Today the world market for alpaca fiber and fabrics is large and growing, which is mainly supplied by Peru and Bolivia. The countries in which this consumption is concentrated are the United States, Japan, Germany, Belgium, France, England, Italy and others on a smaller scale such as The Netherlands and Switzerland. The national market for camelid hair is minimal, for reasons of low internal productivity.