Gourmet is a cultural ideal associated with the culinary arts of fine food and drink, or haute cuisine, which is characterized by refined, even elaborate preparations and presentations of aesthetically balanced meals of several contrasting, often quite rich courses. The term and its associated practices are usually used positively to describe people of refined taste and passion.
Thursday, 3 May 2012
Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
Species: V. vicugna
The vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) or vicugna is one of two wild South American camelids, along with the guanaco, which live in the high alpine areas of the Andes. It is a relative of the llama, and is now believed to share a wild ancestor with domesticated alpacas, which are raised for their fibre. Vicuñas produce small amounts of extremely fine wool, which is very expensive because the animal can only be shorn every 3 years and has to be caught from the wild. When knitted together, the product of the vicuña's fur is very soft and warm. It is understood that the Inca valued vicuñas highly for their wool, and that it was against the law for any but royalty to wear vicuña garments.
Both under the rule of the Inca and today, vicuñas have been protected by law. Before being declared endangered in 1974, only about 6,000 animals were left. Today, the vicuña population has recovered to about 350,000, and while conservation organizations have reduced its level of threat, they still call for active conservation programs to protect population levels from poaching, habitat loss, and other threats.
The vicuña is the national animal of Peru; its emblem is used on the Peruvian coat of arms representing the animal kingdom.
Thursday, 8 December 2011
The Sage Sparrow (Amphispiza belli) is a medium-sized sparrow of the western United States and northwestern Mexico.
Sage Sparrows are indeed often tied to sagebrush habitats, although they can also be found in brushy stands of saltbush, chamise, and other low shrubs of the arid Interior West.
The most widespread population (subspecies nevadensis) breeds in the interior of the Western United States (between the Rocky Mountains and the coastal ranges such as the Cascades). It winters in the Mexican-border states and northern Sonora and Chihuahua. A related population (subspecies canescens) breeds in south-central California. Three other populations are resident to the west: the dark subspecies belli in the California Coast Ranges and part of the western slope of the Sierra Nevada south to about 29° N in Baja California, the equally dark subspecies clementeae limited to San Clemente Island, and subspecies cinerea in western Baja California from 29° N to 26° 45' 0 N. These three subspecies are sometimes called Bell's Sparrow. Some consider them a separate species.
Although Sage Sparrow numbers are generally strong, significant declines in sagebrush habitat in the West could be expected to decrease populations in the near future. A. b. clementeae has been listed as Threatened since 1977.
The species' epithet (belli) refers to John Graham Bell.