Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Paga Crocodile Park

‘Never smile at a crocodile’
 On Saturday (26th January) the Ghana volunteers reunited in Paga, in the Upper East Region of Ghana, to celebrate Ben’s 26th birthday. We met Team Tamale and Team Bolga at Paga Crocodile Pond, a popular tourist attraction that is apparently filled with some of the biggest crocodiles in the world.

There is a myth that the first man to settle in the area had his life saved by one of the crocodiles, by leading the traveller to the pond to quench his thirst after a long journey in the African sun. Filled with gratitude, he then declared the crocodile ponds in the area ‘sacred’ and declared that all crocodiles in Paga were to be treated as royalty.

Alternatively, there is another myth to the famous crocodile pond. The story goes that a hunter was trapped between the pond and a lion. In order to spare his life, he made a deal with a crocodile that he and his decedents would never eat crocodile meat. Imagining that there is a talking crocodile in this story, just for my own amusement, the crocodile agreed to help the hunter cross the pond to escape the lion. At the other side he then found a village and his home where he settled.

Even today, it is seen as a taboo to hurt or kill a Paga crocodile. According to travel site, UnitedPlanet.org it is also believed that “the soul of every native in the village [in Paga] has a corresponding crocodile in the pond.”  Paga Crocodile Pond is the only place in the world where you can touch and sit on a crocodile due to their – what we may find, unusually - tame behaviour.

When we entered the pond we were directed to a huge crocodile lying still beneath a tree. It didn’t move for a good five minutes, leading us to believe that it wasn’t real until birthday boy, Ben approached it and perched at the end of its tail. Its mouth slowly opened revealing it’s garish teeth. Confirming it was actually alive and kicking, the team slowly shuffled back.

Everyone was pretty brave stepping up to the beast of a reptile. Team Sandema did well; Tracy posed with the tail and Will looked pretty cool straddling the croc. I however wasn’t as keen and lasted long enough for a photo opportunity and jumped off as fast as I could.

Jenna looking a little nervous
Strike a pose, Tracy!

Poppy puckering up with the crocodile

William Stewart, Crocodile Hunter

What was more fascinating to watch was the crocodiles that kept creeping in and out of the water behind us. The guide / crocodile master / guy with the stick lured one of the crocs out of the water with a live guinea fowl. Attracted by the noise the croc slowly crawled out of the water, creeping closer and closer. Looking pretty hungry the guide threw the guinea fowl towards the croc and it was demolished in a matter of minutes.



It was an amazing opportunity to come face to face with the crocs, but a subtle reminder of how dangerous these animals are!

It was great to see the other volunteers and we had a fantastic time at Paga Crocodile Park. It’s made us even more excited to visit Mole National Park in a few weeks time to discover more of Ghana’s wildlife.


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