Goats in Trees?

Goats in trees.: Image courtesy  Robbie's Photo Art's photos via Flickr's Creative Commons.
Goats in trees.: Image courtesy Robbie's Photo Art's photos via Flickr's Creative Commons.
This is such pure insanity that I thought was a total hoax the first time I saw it, but those really are goats and they really are in trees.

The tree the goats are in is an evergreen argan tree. It is found mostly only in Morocco. The tree reaches heights of 25-30 feet, and has a knobby, twisted trunk that allows for goat climbers. The goats climb the tree because they like to eat the fruit of the tree, which is similar to an olive.

Which is all well and good. Goats in trees. Perfectly natural.

Farmers actually follow the herds of goats as they move from tree to tree. Not because it is so strange to see goats in trees and the farmers like to point and stare, but because the fruit of the tree has a nut inside, which the goats can't digest, so they spit it up or excrete it which the farmers collect. The nut contains 1-3 kernels, which can be ground to make argan oil used in cooking and cosmetics. This oil has been collected by the people of the region for hundreds of years, but like many wild and useful things these days, the argan tree is slowly disappearing due to over-harvesting for the tree's wood and overgrazing by goats.

As a result a group of people and organizations have banded together to try to save the tree. To do so one of the primary locations where the trees grow has
been declared a biosphere preserve
. It was also decided that by making the world aware of the oil, it's great taste and supposed anti-aging properties, would create a demand for it. However, the people who planned to market the oil could not envision people wanting to put an oil on their food or their face that was collected from goat excrement. As a result, a campaign is being led to ban grazing on the trees by goats during certain parts of the year to allow the fruit to ripen and fall off on its own. The fruit is then collected and turned into oil by oil cooperatives. So far, this arrangement seems to be working.

But I wonder how the goats feel about the whole thing.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Goats in a tree thats different\r\n

posted on Tue, 11/01/2005 - 3:05pm
Mary Luz's picture
Mary Luz says:

I LOVE this story- and am a food writer. Incidentally, a woman from Morocco imports the valuable oil here in Toronto- I'm wondering if the photo above is yours? If so- can I get your permission to post it on my site for an article I'd like to write on Argan Oil from Morocco?


posted on Mon, 06/19/2006 - 8:13pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:


Thanks for your kind words. I am not the originator of this image, and it seems as though I did not credit the person who did take this photo - which is an error on my part. I can't find any approval information from the author, so I dropped the ball here. Sorry I can't give you permission to use it - I am currently looking for an image to replace it, as it appears I didn't get permission either (or I did, but didn't credit the person and didn't retain the information - unlikely). So, I pulled the image. I would recommed checking out Flickr. There are a lot of images there, and you can write to the authors of the images to request their permission to use them. Sorry I could not be of more help.

posted on Tue, 06/20/2006 - 10:05am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

There is a great banner of goats in trees here. At the bottom of the page is a contact for another picture. Also this page has several photos and a contact to their owner.

posted on Tue, 06/20/2006 - 10:52am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:


posted on Thu, 01/11/2007 - 6:12pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

when someone had told me that i can find a goat in a tree. i thoght the were kind of werid, but now that i have research on it i kind of thouht of it kind of being cool going to Morocco and looking up at the argan trees and seeing a goat eating fruites.

posted on Thu, 01/11/2007 - 7:42pm
rev marvin e purser jr's picture
rev marvin e purser jr says:

Picture of many goats in one tree is in the Sun Sentinel, Ft. Lauderdale in the LIFE magazine section this morning, Jan 12, 2007. It is the "Picture of the Week."

posted on Fri, 01/12/2007 - 5:42am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Here is a link to that Lorne Bridgman "goats in tree" photo.

posted on Sat, 01/13/2007 - 8:46am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

There is an advert for HSBC bank in UK with these goats in trees and we have been having a big debate at work about it. I thought it was real and everyone else was laughing at me saying 'of course not, its just camera tricks' I am so glad that I have been proved right!

posted on Tue, 08/07/2007 - 12:47pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

At long last I posted a photo. Thank you Creative Commons.

posted on Mon, 08/13/2007 - 8:55pm
Will's picture
Will says:

so funny but clever goats

posted on Sat, 08/18/2007 - 10:21am
Gilly Thornton's picture
Gilly Thornton says:

Thank you for that very informative piece. I was arguing with my husband he said there was no way it was real goats in trees and that it must have been done with photo shop. I am glad I was right. They are real goats in real trees. Clever and funny. I love goats.

posted on Thu, 11/22/2007 - 8:42am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this is interesting

posted on Wed, 12/12/2007 - 1:48pm
Harley Ray's picture
Harley Ray says:

Wow... you learn something new everyday. Imagine the surprise of walking along and seeing a goat in a tree.

posted on Mon, 12/17/2007 - 11:30am
ameldridge's picture
ameldridge says:

Thanks for this, solved an argument with the misses ;)

posted on Tue, 05/06/2008 - 3:36pm
Jessica_Patino's picture
Jessica_Patino says:

wow, goats in trees? even if it is a little normal it still gets a big reaction from most people. i would love to see that in person. how do they stay on the trees? are they like gripping or something? how strange.

posted on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 1:29pm
Carina's picture
Carina says:

And just how exactly does one prevent goats from climbing up the trees...?

*sigh*. People pay $$ to drink coffee that has gone through what - ocelot excrement? Why not face oil???

posted on Fri, 01/02/2009 - 3:22pm
Dan Woodfin's picture
Dan Woodfin says:

I prefer the authentic "traditional harvest method" and would pay more for it. The product label should have a picture of the goats participating in the harvest process Those who don't like this can eat/apply petrochemical synthetics from a plastic bottle taking care not to muss their polyester clothes.

posted on Wed, 04/14/2010 - 7:28am
diane's picture
diane says:

Hi I hope it's OK to link to this page in my notes about photos of an Argan Oil co-op in Moroocco.


Please let me know if there's any problem


posted on Mon, 10/04/2010 - 12:30pm
MJ's picture
MJ says:

I saw a documentary on this over the T-Day weekend 2010. I had to do some internet searching to see it again. Great pictures. And what the goats do with the beans is akin to what happens for the Kopi Luwak coffee beans (as seen in the Bucket List movie). I will not be purchasing either product. lol But seeing is believing. Live and learn.... (And, with my own eyes, I saw walking fish in Thailand.)

posted on Mon, 11/29/2010 - 6:04am

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