Morocco & Algeria: Argan Trees & Goats
6-17-19, Natl Geographic*: From Marrakech to the coastal town of Essaouira, argan trees pepper the countryside. The gnarled, thorny trees grown almost exclusively in southwestern Morocco and western Algeria may not be pretty, but they attract plenty of goats. Herds of hungry goats climb their branches, sometimes more than one dozen in a single tree. Some goat keepers modify the trees to make them easier to climb, they cut some branches off the trees so the goats can start climbing the trees more easily.
The 'fruit' of the Argan tree is what the goats are after. It looks like a shriveled olive or like an acorn from an oak; annually- around June - it ripens. The resourceful goats often climb up to 30 feet above ground for their meal that's up to 84 percent of their diet. They eat and swallow the whole fruit, even though it's the pulp hiding under the thick peel that that covers a nut that they do not digest. This nut is 'harvested' by humans ...
The goat swallows/digests the peel and pulp, but the seed is either spitted or "pooped" out. The seeds of the fruit are valuable — humans retrieve the seeds that are pressed yielding argan oil, valued in beauty treatments and foodie circles. By some reports, argan oil exports bring in $6.5 million. [A study titled "Tree-climbing goats disperse seeds during rumination" [to chew repeatedly for an extended period] and was just published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.]
The seeds and spectacle of the tree climbing goats opens jobs for local women and draws tourism to the area to witness the unusual sight. Women's cooperatives seem to make argan oil on every hill in the region. Many places like Marjana cooperative near Ounagha, lead tourists through the production. The windy city of Essaouira offers plenty to do for style-seekers or beach bums with time to spend. But even those tourists just passing through can see the bizarre tree-climbing goats from the road.
Salvation? Luke 13:3; Titus 2:13, Revelation 19:11
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