National Geographic : 1981 Jul
A playful bump between two young males (left) portends serious territorial fighting in later life. Protrudingchests act as shields and batteringrams. Patienceand a telescope allow Dr. Franklin(right) to observe animal behavior such as taking a dust bath (below). Wallows in pawed-out hollows fluff the wool and improve its insulation capacity. Found in desert,plain, and forest, the adaptableguanaco lives at altitudesrangingfrom sea level to 13,000 feet. Paddedfeet allow navigationthroughsnow and sand. Able to draw moisturefrom forage, guanacos can go for long periodswithout drinkingwater. With the aid of Eduardo, we located an ideal study area, along meadow bordering a small peat-stained river and bounded by beech forest. Five family groups, each made up of a male and six to ten females, had staked out daytime territories along the meadow. A sixth group lived in the dense forest but sometimes ventured to the fringe of the meadow. From a blind at forest edge I was able to view the entire panorama. We set to work building an elevated hut Guanacos: Wild Camels of South America we soon dubbed the Freezer. At almost any time we would see several family groups grazing undisturbed on the meadow. "River dance coming up with MNale 204," whispered Danny on my left. I swung my binoculars and picked up Group 204. Several month-old chulengos were playfully chasing back and forth among the six females. Occasionally they paused to jump at each other, wrestle with their long necks, or nip at legs and flanks.