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With the alpacas to New South Wales

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Abstract

For almost a year (May 1857 to March 1858) Ledger, his men and the animals remained at Laguna Bianca. The losses of animals that Ledger had suffered from the beginning of his expedition had diminished his stock of alpacas. The llamas he had brought such a long way were mostly male pack animals, whereas he would have needed female llamas to produce fertile crossings with male alpacas and gradually reconstitute the alpaca flock. Alpacas could not be found in Argentina but there were plenty of llamas, so he bought 650 females. The stop-over in Laguna Bianca gave him enough time for a first-generation crossing and, at the same time, for a second-generation crossing between the female bybrids he already had with male alpacas in order to improve the quality of the offspring. Between the surviving pure-bred and first- and second-generation crossings, he reconstituted, after one year in Laguna Bianca, a sufficient number of alpacas — or near alpacas — to meet the verbal arrangement made with Governor Fitzroy. Then the time came to start moving before the cold weather closed the main Andean passes and their ‘spurs’, which were open, although risky, only from December to April.

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© Gabriele Gramiccia 1988

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