This strange sight should make you want to go on the road leading to Essaouira.
GOATS CLIMBING MOROCCAN TREES
Argan trees punctuate the landscape on the dusty road linking Marrakech to the port city of Essaouira. These thorny plants endemic to southwestern Morocco and western Algeria may seem unsightly but they have fervent admirers. Herds of hungry goats climb nimbly into their gnarled branches; they are sometimes more than a dozen to share the same argan tree.
There is an explanation for this strange phenomenon. Argan trees produce a fruit that resembles a withered olive, which ripens every year in June. The ingenious goats climb up to 9 meters high to taste these bitter fruits, which make up nearly 84% of their diet.
Goats gobble up the whole fruit, although it is the pulp that hides under its thick skin that is the tastiest. The pulp itself covers a nucleus that men desperately covet.
According to tradition, men collect argan nuts from the feces of goats, which do not digest them. These nuts are then used to make argan oil. Today, most Berber women are in charge of this time-consuming activity: first extract the nuts from the stool, then open them by hand to obtain the precious oil that will be used to concoct very expensive cosmetic or food products. Argan oil is also widely used in Moroccan cuisine: it soaks breakfast bread and floods couscous.
If these products are sold at a gold price, it is because it takes more than 27 kilos of argan fruit to produce a liter of argan oil. Given the yield of these trees, some breeders and farmers are acquiring more and more goats, which end up threatening the development of argan trees. On the other hand, this culture allows the employment of local women and arouses the curiosity of many tourists.
Women's cooperatives in the region, such as the Marjana cooperative near Ounagha, guide tourists through argan oil production. The beautiful coastal town of Essaouira offers, even to the most hurried visitors, the extraordinary view of goats in the air, passing from one branch to another in the argan trees loaded with fruit.
A BEAUTIFUL SHOW THAT HIDES SOME MISERIES :
some Moroccan farmers are reportedly bringing goats to areas frequented by tourists, to force them to climb trees and offer visitors authentic snapshots – which already number in the hundreds on Instagram. “I heard that they even bring in goats from other regions, build platforms in the trees and start coaxing the animals to attract more tourists, eager for selfies ".