It’s tough for trees to thrive in the semi-desert Sous valley region of southern Morocco, but scientists have found that some might be getting a helping hand from an unlikely source.
While the local goats have been considered something of a menace because of their fondness for the argan fruit, Spanish ecologists have observed an unusual way in which they might actually be helping – they are constantly spitting out their seeds.
Domesticated goats in the region are inordinately fond of climbing to the precarious tops of argan trees to find fresh forage.
In some arid habitats, such as argan forests, most green vegetation is at the tops of the trees – which can grow 10 metres high.
Local goatherds are known to encourage the activity, pruning the bushy, thorny trees to make it easier for goats to ascend them, and even helping the goats’ kids to learn how to climb.
During the bare autumn season in the region, goats can spend three quarters of their foraging time “treetop grazing” in the argan trees.
Argan is popular for the beauty products which feature in argan oil, made from the tree’s nuts