Friday, September 23, 2011

Arboreal goats

It looks like a Photoshop exercise, doesn't it? But it's not (see video here)! Vacationers to the Mediterranean are surprised enough to stop for a snapshot (example here, scroll down) and the sight is odd enough to be the theme of a calendar, but the local Moroccans are quite used to their tree-climbing goats (more photos here). The animals are after the vegetation of the argan tree, including the fruit which contains a seed used by the Berbers for centuries to produce an oil used in food, cosmetics, and medicine. In fact, this adaptation by the goats is so prevalent that they are now endangering the trees - not with their hooves, but with their mouths. Researchers have identified a vicious cycle:
  1. Owners of argan trees sell the seeds used to make the popular and expensive oil, which now sells for upwards of $300 per liter.
  2. The income allows families to send their daughters to secondary school, but also to buy more goats.
  3. The additional goats further devastate the trees, which now require protection by UNESCO.
Tim Wall writes on the Discovery website, "Just when things were looking up for families in southwestern Morocco, goats started climbing the precious argan trees, eating their leaves and stunting their growth. (Speaking of looking up, you probably shouldn't when arboreal goats are around.)"

No comments:

Post a Comment

You may add your comments here.