Those darn tree climbing goats!

My three week vacation to Morocco in the summer of 2006 failed to disappoint.  There was a day to remember, driving along the road about a half hour drive from Essaouira when we stumbled upon the craziest sight ever, goats in the trees!  I must have spent about a good half hour photographing those darn goats, they weren’t paying me much attention as they climbed about and feasted on their tasty treats.  It wasn’t until later did I learn that these goats have been climbing the argan trees for centuries, and are well adapted for doing so (I did not not see any falling goats that day)

But that’s not the whole story! 

After digesting the fleshy argan fruit, they poop out the argan nut which is later gathered by the farmers, cleaned (they better!), and processed for argan oil.  The expensive argan oil is considered a culinary delicacy and used as a cosmetic product.  There has been challenges with this market, however, as farmers are quick to buy more goats but place the argan trees at further risk of depletion.  There has been regulations to help manage this ecosystem and to promote the non-digesting method (which takes longer to market).

I was very happy to have my goat in tree photo published in Quaternary Science Reviews 28 (2009) 1434-1448; “Vegetation change, goats, and religion: a 2000-year history of land use in southern Morocco” (see excerpt below).

Click on photos to view in a large gallery




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