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Mammals - African Elephant

Region: South America

Class: Mammalia

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Camelidae

Genus: Lama

Scientific Name: Lama glama

Description: The body has fairly long, dense fine wool. The hair on the head, neck and limbs is shorter than elsewhere on its body. Colouration is brown to black or even white, usually irregularly blotched with these colours. Length of head and body: 1.2 m Length of tail: 15 cm Height at shoulder: 1.2 m Weight: 70 - 140 kg

Distribution: Southern and Western South America from sea level to elevations of 5,000 meters

Habitat: Semi-desert, open country of plateaus and high pampas

Food: Grasses, shrubs and the leaves and branches of small trees.

Reproduction and Development: Mate in August and September. Gestation period is 10 - 11 months. One young is born, although the female has four teats. Females bear young every other year unless they abort. Immediately after birth the young are able to run with surprising endurance. The youngster is nursed for 6 - 12 weeks. As the young males develop, they are eventually driven from the herd by the older females. There is a herd hierarchy with an alpha female at the top of it. Life expectancy is about 20 years.

Adaptations: In contrast to other animals, the llama’s hemoglobin has a greater affinity for oxygen and the blood contains more red corpuscles. This ability partly accounts for its survival in high altitudes. In the mountains their safety depends upon their speed (up to 56 km/h) and alertness. They enjoy standing and even lying in mountain streams and are said to be good swimmers.

Status: Common

References: Walker, E.P.; Mammals of the World, Johns Hopkins Press, 5th edition, 1991. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Lama_glama.html