Goats in an argan tree near Essaouira, Morocco
A bizarre balancing act. The tree-climbing goats of Morocco
Yes, these goats in Essaouira, Morocco, have climbed high up into an argan tree – and probably not for the first time. The goats enjoy the small yellow fruit these trees produce and when the low-hanging ones are gone, they climb up the twisted trunk to find more. Goats aren't the only beneficiaries of these trees. The nuts from argan trees are used to produce argan oil, which is edible and used for some rather pricey cosmetics, making it a valuable export.
Orchard owners enlist goats to unwittingly harvest the nuts. Because the goats tend to swallow the entire fruit, the nuts pass through their digestive systems intact. Once the nuts are excreted, they're gathered from the droppings and cracked open to expose the seed kernels which contain the valuable oil. Occasionally the partnership between orchard owner and goat backfires, though, and the goats must be prevented from chomping away too much. It's all a delicate balancing act.