The animals on the cover of Mastering Perl are a vicuna (Vicugna vicugna)mother and her young. vicu?a are found in the central Andes Mountains of South America, at altitudes of 4,000 to 5,500 meters. For centuries, the vicuna has been treasured for its coat of soft,insulating hair that produces some of the finest and rarest wool on Earth.
vicuna yarns and fabrics can fetch up to $3,000 per yard.
vicunas held a special place among ancient Incan societies. Incans believed that the animal was the reincarnation of a beautiful maiden who had received a coat of gold as a reward for succumbing to the advances of a decrepit and homely king.
Every four years, Incans would hold a chacu, a hunt to trap thousands of vicunas,shear their coats,and release them back to the wild. Incan law forbade the killing of vicunas, and only members of royalty were allowed to wear garments made from the animal's coat.
Unregulated hunting of vicunas led to the animal being placed on the endangered species list in 1974. By that time, their number had dwindled to 6,000. However,close regulation, particularly by the government of Peru, has led to the vicuna's resurgence,and today the number is over 120,000. The chacu is now sanctioned and regulated by the Peruvian government, and a portion of the profits is returned to villagers in the Andes.