This is not fake news or fake photos. There we were, driving along a flat, dry part of the western Moroccan landscape dotted with small farm houses and solitary argan trees (agania spinosa), endemic to Morocco.
I squinted at the tree in the distance, with its limbs spread out in the sun and great clumps of wooly white stuff mid branches.
As we drew closer I doubled up with laughter – goats up a tree. I had never seen such a thing.
On top of a tree! Here, in the south-west of Morocco, in North Africa where the plants and trees are far apart and fewer, goats use their climbing skills to find their food. Here the animals have climbed up an argan tree to get to the fresh fruit at the top. They can climb an impressive 8-10 metres to do this.
The good oil
Argan oil is a plant oil produced from the kernels of the argan tree (Argania spinosa L.) that is endemic to Morocco. In Morocco, argan oil is used to dip bread in at breakfast or to drizzle on couscous or pasta.
Argan oil is rich in essential fatty acids, and has moisturising, anti-aging and antioxidant properties. … in short, it promises results as a powerful anti-wrinkle cream. (I hope this works!)
Moroccan argan oil is made from the seed of the Argan tree), a native to the Souss-Massa-Drâa region of Morocco and Algeria. While the traditional method allows the goats to process the nuts first, as this softens the husk, some Berber women will hand-pick and open the nut to get at the seed.
The trees often grow to up to 8 metres and the goats have no qualms about moving along the thorny branches in search of the tree’s bitter fruit.
The argan fruit resembles a shriveled golden apple. The fruit is firm, has a thick peel and contains the fleshy pulp around an almond-shaped nut that looks like a dried olive.
The crazy tree goats love the pulp. They eat the whole fruit despite the fact that their bodies can’t digest the nut. Greedy goats!
The argan nuts pass through the digestive system of the goats and once they are excreted, people gather them from the droppings and crack them open to expose the seeds inside.
The production and marketing of argan oil is a valuable resource for Morocco – economically and for education. Stats (compiled by the University of California) of enrolment data from 1981-2010 concluded that the rise in production of argan oil is directly linked to an increase in Moroccan girls being able to attend secondary school.
And back to goats in trees . . . even after feeding their faces, the goats hang around on the branches of the trees just looking out at the horizon . . . excellent for photography and tourism.
Writer, Bev Malzard was smitten by the goats-in-trees phenomenon and grabbed a baby goat to cuddle while standing under the tree. She took the goat to Marrakech, bought it dinner, a new cardigan and a phone card. But nothing persuaded the animal to get on a plane to travel to Australia. Goat’s loss! Malzard is currently under arrest for trying to smuggle a baby donkey into Oz, will she never learn?
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