A goat stands on the beach in Kipos village, on Samothraki island, northeastern Greece.
With oak and chestnut forests, waterfalls and rugged coastline, Samothraki has a wild beauty and a remoteness that sets it apart from other Greek islands.
There are no package holidays here or even a reliable ferry service to the mainland. Island authorities hope to achieve UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status. Yet still, the natural environment is under threat from an insatiable assailant.
Goats outnumber human inhabitants 15-fold and they are munching stretches of Samothraki into a moonscape. After decades of trying to find a solution, experts and locals are working together to find a 21st-century way to save the island's ecology and economy.
Semi-wild, the goats roam across the island, which is roughly three times the size of Manhattan, and can be spotted on rooftops, in trees or on top of cars as they scour the landscape for anything to eat. Their unchecked overgrazing is causing crisis-level erosion.
Torrential rains two years ago swept away the island's town hall and severed its roads. There were no trees or vegetation left on the steep, goat-eaten hillsides to stop the mudslides caused by the downpour.
"There are no big trees to hold the soil. And it's a big problem, both financial and real because (the mud) will come down on our heads," says George Maskalidis, who helps run Sustainable Samothraki Association, an environmental group.
The goat population, meanwhile, soared fivefold to an estimated 75,000 by the late 1990s. Some parts of the countryside were simply nibbled away.
The goat numbers have since dropped to below 50,000 as there is little left to graze on. But this has left the island in a trap.
Most of its goats are malnourished and too scrawny to be used commercially for meat, animal feed is too expensive to maintain a sustainable business and much of the soil is too depleted for trees to grow back.
But that correction doesn't have to be painful, at least according to the island's resident optimist Carlota Maranon, a Spanish lawyer who settled here a decade ago.
"It is possible to do things in a more sustainable way," Maranon says. "That might mean fewer goats but that could actually work out better for the farmers."
Having a tight-knit community, she says, will also help.
"Everyone here is connected to the herders in some way, so this issue affects everyone. To live off the land, you have to keep it alive," she said.
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