Saturday, January 8, 2011

You've Come a Llama Way, Baby!

Just taking it easy. Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

Llamas are very versatile animals and used for a great variety of tasks in many parts of the world: pack animals, meat source, provider of wool, protector of flocks. They are generally very territorial; and, vigorously protect their territory and the rest of the animals in it. Several cultures have used them as guard animals for centuries for just this reason.

And now, a nature reserve in England is trying what ranchers in North America have discovered. Llamas have already proven themselves as excellent caretakers of sheep, goats, and other livestock. Why not a nature reserve?

A nature reserve in Southport, England plans to take advantage of this desire to protect their territory and all the inhabitants within. The park warden has hired two llamas to work as security guards. Marshside Reserve, run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, is now home to two new employees, Willy and Jack.

Llamas are relatively easy to maintain. Give them access to grass or hay with a clean source of water nearby; and, they become practically maintenance free. Not to mention, they are environmentally friendly and their dropping are a great nitrogen source for plant growth. The only time they become a bit rambuctious is when they are defending their own; and, their aggressive behaviour is expected to keep predators at bay.

Warden Graham Clarkson says the hope is that the llamas will chase away animals, such as foxes, that might eat the eggs and chicks in the nature reserve. He is hoping for success as some of the breeding birds in the park are threatened in the United Kingdom.

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