By HUGO GYE
Athletic: Goats are so keen to snack on the fruit of the argan tree that they scramble up its branches
This extraordinary picture shows the animal world's equivalent of a gold rush - the quest for the fruit of the argan tree.
Goats are so desperate for the tasty meal that they will even climb tall trees to get to it.
But the fruit is hard to come by, which leads to extraordinary scenes like this, where nine goats are perching on the branches of a single 17-foot-high tree.
And with two dozen more eagerly gathered in anticipation of their turn on the tree, the exasperated goatherd pictured in the background is in for a long wait.
Photographer Gavin Oliver, 38, pulled over to the side of the road to take a snap after spotting the strange scene near the Todra Gorge in Morocco.
Oil: The argan tree produces delicacies for humans, as well as for animals
He said: 'There were about 30 goats, with the ones in the tree already in place when we were driving past.
'I caught the tree out of the corner of my eye but at first didn't really take in exactly what it was I was looking at. I then just yelled "pull over" to my friend who was driving.
'The tree branches were bobbing up and down under the weight of the goats every time they moved, the way a fishing rod does when there's a fish pulling on the other end of the line.'
Gavin, from the Blue Mountains, near Sydney, Australia, added: 'The herd of goats were being looked after by a young teenage shepherd, who you can just make out behind the tree.
'After I took this photo, I tried to talk to the shepherd but we didn't have more than ten words in common, so we got in our car and drove on.'
Goats climb argan trees in order to eat their black olive-like fruits.
When they have digested the flesh of the fruit, the argan nut passes through the goats' system and is then gathered and turned in to argan oil.
This oil, a litre of which can take up to 20 hours to make, fetches a high price as a culinary delicacy and a cosmetic product.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
By HUGO GYE