The holiday resort at Riva Bella Thalasso in France is home to 70 lamas. On-site since 1989, the lamas have adapted to the seafront climate. Free to wander most of the year, they help maintain the domain in winter. Their work consists in eating bushes and saplings to prevent them from invading the site from the maquis. The rest of the year, they make the most of the sun!
Despite their stately demeanour, lamas are gentle and curious creatures. Contrary to legend, they are a peaceful animal and only spit to defend themselves. They aim at their fellow lamas and rarely target people.
Originally from South America, they form troops comprising on one side the females and unweaned young and on the other side the males. They are an agile, hoofless animal and do not damage the vegetation.
During reproduction, ovulation is induced by copulation with the male. One of the first consequences of this phenomenon is that there is no particular mating season. A young female can be coupled with a male at 14 - 18 months old depending on her development. A young male can fulfil his role at 2 1/2 - 3 years old.
The gestation period usually lasts around 350 days for lamas. Most births take place during the daytime between 5 a.m. and 2 p.m. and are generally problem-free. Twin births are extremely rare. A young lama can be weaned at around 6 months old. We can also decide to leave the youth with its mother: it will then continue to suckle longer. In all cases, it should be separated from its mother at least one month before her next birth.
Lamas are herbivores, they ruminate (they have 3 stomachs) and like the wild flora: brambles, oak leaves, pine needles, juniper leaves, prickly juniper, broom, pistacia and strawberry trees, etc. Lamas also love any treats you may have to offer: they will gladly eat dry bread and leftover fruit or vegetable peelings, much to the amusement of watching children. In summer, the lamas are kept in parks that are open for you to walk around.
Nothing is lost, everything is transformed. Part of their wool is used to insulate the bungalow lofts and walls. The remaining wool is given to Lana Corsa, an artisanal Corsican wool transformation workshop in Saliceto, at the very heart of the island of Corsica. Weaving and felting workshops are organised to transform the lama wool. The Riva Bella lamas are sheared on-site using solar-powered clippers.
The lamas take part in Riva Bella's ecotourism efforts. They help maintain the domain by airing and fertilising the ground while roaming, clearing the site's 70 hectares throughout the year and thus generating huge energy savings.