Religious Crocodiles in Burkina Faso

When I first heard the word Ouagadougou spoken, somewhere in my mind I knew it ought to be in Africa.  Sure it was, but with little effort I found it was in West Africa, with Ghana and Ivory Coast as neighbours.  I reached Ouagadougou in 1999 and stayed there for three years.  My stay was eventful and pleasant.  A Francophone country with poor people all around, it was a culture shock even for an Indian to be in such a poor country.  Never knew people could be so poor.  Sure I had seen poverty but not people so poor.

When I think of crocodiles, I am always reminded of Sabou.  It is an hours drive from Ouagadougou towards the South.  Sabou is famous for crocs.  But has anyone heard of religious crocs?  You got to visit it to believe it.  It is an open area with a large lake with no fences around, and in that lake there are more than 200 crocs.  When I got to Sabou  in a car, immediately a Burkinabe would come with several chickens held by their legs.  I had to buy one for CFA 2500 (about US$5).  They would tie the sqeaking chicken’s legs with a nylon rope and throw it in the water.  On hearing the chicken the crocs would come out and try to grab it, and one of them would get it eventually.  The strange part of the whole incident is that the crocs would not harm humans – apparently because they are religious.  I wonder how they became religious.   I have seen an African boy bathing in the lake with crocs swimming past him.  I have never tried it, and would not advise anyone to try it either.  Yes I did stand close to the crocs, but was very wary of them all the time, being grabbed by a Croc is not my idea of fun.

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