The aloe industry in South Africa is one of the least understood or visited - aloes are a huge family of plants but the ones that are used in cosmetics are aloe vera and the aloe ferox, commonly known as bitter aloe. The ferox (fire) variety) is indigenous (but not endemic) to Southern Africa, particularly to the more arid regions of the Karoo and Eastern Cape.
For a long time, only wild aloes were harvested but these days they are actually cultivated on large farms, not least because of the massive increase in demand in the medicinal (it's used extensively in dermatology) and cosmetic industries. The ancient Egyptians used it extensively in animal and human medicine and its been shown to have anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
It has a striking appearance growing up to three metres in height and with long bright red candelabra which are its flowers. The actual active ingredients used in cosmetics and medicine are actually found in the sap contained in its leaves, as the plant is a succulent. As such to harvest aloes, the leaves are cut and the sap collected.
You can visit a working aloe farm at Alcare Aloe in Albertinia, Western Cape, which is on the Garden Route. More about them and what they do here.https://www.aloe.co.za/