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August 2002

If the sheep look like they are getting bigger on Harris it is because the latest livestock additions to the island are in fact llamas. 

Trevor and Pippa Gibbs of Drinishader have imported the first two of a number of llamas that they intend to train as a llama trekking team. For over 5,000 years llamas in the South American Andes have provided food, shelter, wool and the ability to carry heavy loads across difficult terrain.

In a first for the Hebrides, visitors from around the world and locals alike will be able to experience the company of these quiet, elegant and gentle animals and encounter the unique Harris scenery at the same time.  Llamas are uniquely suited to harsh environments and yet environmentally friendly - their soft pads do less damage to paths than a human footprint.  Linga Longa Llama Trekking intend to offer personalised guided walks and rambling tours to suit individual requirements and pace.

The business is being established with financial help from Western Isles Enterprise (WIE) in the form of a development grant worth 7,100 (pounds) and HIE Starts assistance, which provides an income and advice for the first six months of trading.   Mrs Gibbs has also received assistance from WIE to allow her to undertake training in llama handling.

On top of llama trekking, Mrs Gibbs is also setting up a sub post office and small grocery shop providing a valuable local service in the Bays of Harris, which is in a designated Iomairt aig an Oir (Initiative at the Edge) area.  Mr and Mrs Gibbs are originally from South Africa but moved to Harris with their four children last year. Commenting on their new venture Mrs Gibbs said: "Harris is a wonderful place for summer visitors and we would like to do our bit to make them linger longer - hence the name of the business."  Chief executive at WIE Donnie Macaulay said: "The Bays of Harris is a particularly fragile area. It is encouraging to see people creating their own businesses and employment here and this unique tourist attraction will hopefully entice more visitors to the area."