Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tree-Climbing Goats!

Goats are fascinating animals. Some faint, they provide an important source of cheese and milk throughout much of the world, and they are excellent tree climbers; at least in Morocco.
Yes, the picture above is real. In some parts of Morocco food sources for grazing animals are scarce. Ever resourceful, goats have taken to climbing the region’s argan trees to eat the olive-like fruit that grows in them. Farmers and rancher don’t just allow this practice, they encourage it. The fruit of the argan tree contains a nut that goats can’t digest, so they spit it onto the ground. The nuts can be ground up into argan oil, an important component of cosmetics and cooking oils.
Argan oil is the most expensive oil in the world, going for over $300 per liter. The feeding habits of these goats have made it much easier to harvest argan nuts and provide an important cash crop for people in this region.

The recent demand and high price of argan oil has led many farmers to purchase even more goats. This increased goat population is having a negative effect on the rare argan tree, and overfeeding has caused the tree to become endangered.

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