Morocco is a country of vibrant sights and sounds. From its delectable cuisine to its colorful open-air markets, it appeals to each one of the five senses. In southwestern Morocco, nestled inside the Souss Valley, visitors are treated to one of the country’s most unique spectacles.
In the twisted branches of the argan trees, dozens of goats can be found happily foraging for fruit. After snatching up all of the low-hanging fruit from the ground, the goats scramble up the prickly limbs of the trees to pick fruit from higher branches.
Local farmers encourage the goats to “harvest” the argan trees’ precious fruit, waiting until the fruit is ripe for the picking to release the goats into the argan groves. After the goats eat the fruit and nuts from the trees, they pass the seeds through their digestive system. Farmers collect the seeds and press them into highly-valuable argan oil.
Morocco’s tree-climbing goats also contribute to the country’s burgeoning tourism industry, drawing visitors from all over the world who wish to snap a picture of the nimble foragers. Farmers expect tips in exchange for photo opportunities as a way to supplement their farming income.
Some farmers tie the goats to the trees to collect more tips from passing tourists. If visitors observe this inhumane practice, they should not photograph the goats or engage with the farmers, to discourage mistreatment of the animals.
Most of the goats live in the Souss-Massa-Drâa region of southwest Morocco near the tourist destinations of Essaouira and Agadir. The best opportunity to spot goats feeding in trees is during late spring and early summer when the argan fruit is at its peak.