Bazoulé crocodiles: when reptiles and populations coexist

Stroking a crocodile, throwing meat at him, inviting himself on his shell or taking a photo at his side. Some people have shivers just thinking about it. But this is indeed possible on the sacred crocodile site of Bazoulé, a locality located about thirty kilometers from Ouagadougou, provided you are accompanied by the guide. The sons and daughters of the locality are well aware of this: the pond behind the Bazoulé chief’s palace is special. That is why, to carry out their market gardening and breeding activities, they go to other sites; not to disturb the tranquility of the owners of the place. Indeed, in this pond so special, lives a population of another kind: crocodiles, these large amphibian reptiles of the tropics. Venerated for decades by the inhabitants of Bazoulé, it’s believed that crocodiles have fallen from the sky with rain and have repeatedly prevented the extinction of the local human population. From then on, they became the totem of the village, they are entitled to funeral ceremonies and are the object of all the attention.

Every day, many visitors, accompanied by a guide, a son of the village, converge on the pond of Bazoulé to attend the show offered by the guide and the crocodiles. With a clever gesture and in a hermetic language, he manages to get his protégés out of the water, to jump them in one direction or the other, and to control them when a visitor wants to approach . This exercise is well appreciated by some visitors, who, after many hesitations and cold sweats manages to approach the great reptile, under the curious and amused eye of other visitors.

If some are curious to approach them, others by contrast are not totally convinced of the good faith of these amphibians. Once, when they came in a group and were not accompanied by a guide, one of their friends was bitten by a crocodile. An experience that leaves them with a very bitter aftertaste, they confide.

Mandela Washington Fellow, for Young African Leaders — Civic engagement — Development Cooperation, Economist, Project Management skills, Free learner

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