When travelling in the South of Morocco, specifically in Souss, You may come across rather an unusual sight goatsperched on the branches of Argan trees, happily munching on fruit.
The cloven-hoofed goats in Morocco only climb one particular type of tree: the Argania spinosa, typically referred to as the Argan tree. A prickly and thorny tree, it produces small yellowish flowers, which then produce a fairly small fruit. The fruit’s seed is within a nut, which is further surrounded by soft flesh and a toughouter skin.The fruit’s pulp is what really attracts the goats.
While they will happily keep all hooves firmly on the ground and graze on low-hanging fruit, once they have gobbled the easy-to-reach produce they will scramble up into the tree in search of more. The fruit is not consumed by humans.
Kept away from the trees until the fruit is ripe (maturing takes more than a year), farmers actively encourage the goats to climb the trees for a good feed as soon as the fruit isready, & here is why :
The nuts of the argan tree are used to produce the much-sought-after argan oil, an oil that is thought to have many beneficial properties and is used for both culinary and cosmetic purposes. So why would the farmers want the goats to eat the fruit?
The goats cannot digest the nuts. Instead, they strip away the skin, devour the pulp, and swallow the nut whole.
The nut then passes through the goats’ digestive systems, softening in the process, before being passed in the excrement. The nuts can then be gathered and ground to produce argan oil.
Although the goats played a major role in the argan oil industry in times gone by, the growing demand and market for argan oil products, has led to other ways being used tomass produce the oil. Additionally, Oil extracted from excreted kernels is typically used Only for Cosmetic reasons.
Where and When Can Visitors See Goats on Trees?
If seeing goats on trees is on your „To Do List“ while visiting Morocco, head to the Souss-Massa-Draa region in the southwest of the country. The area includes the popular tourist destinations of Agadir and Essaouira, and the lesser-visited fortified market city of Taroudant. Argan trees grow throughout the region’s mountains.
The fruit is ripe each June, after a year-long period of maturing. Late spring and early summer is, therefore, the best time to see goats galloping the argan trees.
Don’t be tempted to take any fallen fruit away as a souvenir after seeing the goats; local customs and laws govern the entitlement to gather the fruit. Farmers won’t be happy if they see you popping some into your bag. Just ask