The picture above is a rare sight – the goats of Morocco argan forest displaying an extra-ordinary tree climbing skill.
The gnarled, thorny plants grown exclusively in southwestern Morocco and western Algeria may not be pretty, but they attract two categories of fans – goats and humans. Herds of hungry goats pose in their crooked branches, sometimes more than one dozen in a single tree and tourists gather to watch in awe.
So, why do goats have to climb trees?
There’s an explanation for the strange-like phenomenon. The argan trees produces fruits that looks like shriveled olive which ripens each year around June. These resourceful goats crave the bitter taste and aroma, so they climb up to 30 feet above ground to get their fix (this makes up to 84 percent of their diet). The goats eat the whole fruit, even though it’s the pulp hiding under the thick peel that tastes so good. Meanwhile, the pulp covers a nut that humans covet- Argan Oil.
Argan oil is a valuable export for Morocco. It’s sold as pricey cosmetics products and food. It is also infused into different cosmetic products because of the potency. The oil contributes more than $6.5 million annually to Morocco’s economy.
Although goats are known for their nimbleness, climbing trees is a different matter altogether. They manage by climbing slowly, and some goat herders try to make it easier for them by cutting some branches off the trees so it can be easier for the goats.
How do these goats contribute to the eco-system?
There is a popular misconception that the seeds all come from the goats’ excrement but scientists have found that most of the seeds used to produce Morocco’s argan oil actually comes from those regurgitated and spat out by the goats. 70 percent of the seeds regurgitated by goats could still grow, meaning these goats play an important ecological role in helping this specie of vegetation to survive. Argan trees play an important ecological role thanks to their deep roots. They protect the local environment from desertification.
However, to help protect the argan trees herders in the community implement seasonal bans of goat grazing.
For Morocco’s argan trees, climbing goats are both a help and a sometimes a hindrance.
Is there any spectacular occurrence in your community that you think the world should know about? Do share with us in the comment section.