By Tim Worstall
This little story about a property purchase in Argentina set me thinking:
"The 330 square miles (85,000 hectares) of high altitude grassland and mountain peaks are valuable to Loro Piana because they are home to 6,000 vicuna, whose “golden fleeces” provide the super-soft wool that the company uses to produce its coats, sweaters, coats and scarves.
"The company has bought a 60pc share of Sanin SA, an Argentinean firm that has the right to shear the wild vicunas for their precious wool, the rarest natural fibre in the world.
"Six thousand vicunas may seem a lot, but the animals can only be shorn every two years, and yield just 150 grams of fine wool each."
So, a firm making very expensive clothes out of vicuna wool buys the rights to some vicuna in order to get supplies. This has an interesting effect:
"Five years ago Loro Piana bought an eight square mile (2,000 hectare) reserve in Peru, which is now home to 2,000 vicuna after the population doubled in four years.
"The doe-eyed vicuna, described as the Bambi of the camelid family, is a close relative of the llama and alpaca and lives at altitudes of up to 18,000ft (5,500 metres).
"Once regarded as sacred by the Incas, the vicuna was slaughtered by Spanish conquistadors for its wool and by the 1970s was on the brink of extinction." More....