|Some of my friends who helped me with this animal|
Accompanying us on our expedition were representatives from La Molina National Agrarian University. Tissue samples and blood was taken in order to determine, if possible, why the enormous size of this particular animal. This university has been working with Cuy since the 1960's in order to breed larger sized animals. The goal of this university research would perhaps make them more economically sustainable in South America as they are much easier to raise than traditional livestock including cows and alpacas. Secondly, the upside potential for foreign export to other countries and areas in the world including the US, Western Europe, Japan, and Canada is huge.
|Soon to be ripe mangoes hanging from the tree|
Cuy as a food source likely began 5,000 years ago in the Andean highlands and coastal regions of present day Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile. Held in such high regard among the native peoples here, religious festivals now tied with particular Catholic Saints holidays, are held annually honoring these animals.
I took the shot with a locally supplied, but in excellent condition, civil war era, .64 caliber black powder musket. It was on loan from the Museo de Armamentos of Lima. The range was estimated at 75 yards which is a fairly long one for black powder. Muskets of this era are notoriously heavy barreled and I had to use a tripod to steady the aim. Cross winds are not a problem with the 1200 grain lead ball. It was necessary to be no more than 90-100 yards as the expectation is the ball must have some killing power for a Cuy of such enormous proportions. The hide of the Cuy is well known for its toughness and this animal was no exception. I placed the shot in the nerve bundle just below and behind the left ear. It was far enough back that the head mount will not be compromised. I understand it will be on display at the aforementioned university after it is studied more carefully. As for the meat, the university released the carcass to a committee of town folk including the "alcalde" or mayor of Barranca. The heart was immediately cleaned and bagged and within hours we were enjoying some of the finest anticuchos we have ever tried. We may well have been the first to enjoy Cuy anticuchos since antiquity. I have been told by my friends that as you get further north from Lima the food and especially the type of seasonings change and really are much better. That certainly was the case with this Cuy. The animal prior to the cleaning process tipped the scales at just under 475 KG's.
|Anticuchos and Peruvian corn known as choclo, delicious!|
All in all, it was a good day hunting with friends. Their scouting work and efforts really paid off as we bagged this animal shortly before sunrise. Now the locals will not have to stand guard duty of their mango crops 24/7 any longer. The university can continue their research in optimizing and developing their genetic strains for producing larger animals. On a side note, BYU is sending a team of archaeologists to analyze this animal and to take plaster casts of its unusual hoof like feet. Speculation suggests it may have been related to the "horses" so far not found in Pre Colombian South America. Similar type prints have been discovered in Nine Mile Canyon near Price Utah, dating to about 5,000 BCE.