Dozens of goats skillfully balancing on tree branches in Morocco!
Have you ever seen a tree all infested with hungry goats? Do you think it’s impossible? Well, there is one place in the world where this is a rather common occurrence!
This place is Morocco’s southwestern region called Sous valley. Here goats have developed a weird habit of climbing Argan trees. Amazingly enough, they do it not because they try to escape from something, but because these trees are a great source of food!
Such unusual behavior is determined by the environmental conditions of the area. The climate of Morocco’s semidesert is very dry and hot all year round, and as a result there is scanty vegetation. To survive goats had to find some additional source of food and at one point in time they started eating in Argan trees since their leaves are very nutritious.
As the locals say, until 1960s only some animals, perhaps the smartest, ventured to climb the trees. In 1960 there was a severe drought and the majority of goats began to feed on Argan leaves. In fact, this was the only way to survive. Eventually, such behavior pattern turned into common one: elder goats started teaching youngsters. Now this wonderful phenomenon attracts tourists from all over the world! In spite of thorny and crooked branches of Argan trees, the hordes of skilled climbers manage to balance on them and jump from one branch to another.
By the way, local farmers encourage such bizarre practice. The thing is that Argan fruit is a valuable source of oil, and an important source of economy for the Berber people of Morocco. The fruit, which is about 2–4 cm long, has a very hard nut surrounded by the fleshy part that the goats eat. Inside the nut contains one or two, small, oil-rich seeds. The fruit takes over a year to mature, ripening in June or July of the following year. Until this happens, the goats are kept out of the Argan trees.
After the fruit becomes mature enough, people would allow the goats to eat the fruit, but the hard nut would pass through the animal’s digestive system unharmed. The goat excrete would then be collected, the seeds removed and ground or pressed to extract oil, which is used in salad dressing and cosmetics.
Removing the soft pulp is the most labor-intensive part of the oil-extraction process which is why the goats are employed.Ironically, the Argan oil’s popularity has threatened the very survival of this tree. The extra cash acquired from selling the oil has enabled the locals to buy more goats, resulting in more climbing and damage to the trees.
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