Humans and Crocodiles Live in Harmony in the Village of Burkina Faso in Africa
“Dogs are man’s best friends” is a famous saying. So are cats, hamsters, and even lizards. But imagine an entire village that co-exists in perfect harmony with hundreds of massive crocodiles, perfected by nature through centuries of evolution. The human-crocodile friendship in Africa is catching the attention of the netizens.
An astonishing relationship has blossomed between humans and crocodiles in the landlocked nation of Burkina Faso in West Africa. Bazoule, a small village 30 kilometers from the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, is home to more than 100 of revered crocodiles. The villagers feed them, children lie on their backs, and they swim together in the same pond. All this is just an everyday affair in this magical place. Let’s dive deeper into this “startlingly close relationship.”
Humans and crocodiles have co-existed in this African village since the 15th century.
Crocodiles in Bazoul, Burkina Faso 🇧🇫 are actually friendly that children play with them and villagers feed them chickens.
Considered as sacred creatures, they are buried like hùmans when they die. And in an annual Koom Lakre Festival, villagers ask the animals to grant their… pic.twitter.com/URixqeKrNA
— African Hub (@AfricanHub_) October 20, 2023
The story of how this remarkable relationship between humans and crocodiles came to be is steeped in local folklore. According to the legend, the origins of this harmonious co-existence can be traced back to the 14th or 15th century when the area was under the rule of Koud Naba, a local chieftain. The village was grappling with acute drought and shortage of water when the women followed the movement of the crocodiles to discover a hidden pond, thus saving the villagers. It is believed that the village of Bazoule was founded at this new spot.
Since then, the locals and the crocodiles have forged an extraordinary bond of trust and mutual respect, where no casualty has been reported in the last 70 years, in spite of sharing the same space. The crocodiles here form such an intimate part of the native culture that the people celebrate them.
The village even has a whole festival dedicated to the human-crocodile friendship in Africa.
A celebration known as Koom Lakre is still held every year during which villagers make sacrifices and ask the animals to grant their wishes of health, prosperity and a good harvest. pic.twitter.com/AWFdsUPMLO
— Typical African (@Joe__Bassey) July 2, 2020
Koom Lakre is an annual festival unique to Bazoule in Africa, which is exclusively dedicated to the reptilian co-habitants. On this day, villagers offer sacrifices to the crocodiles. They also pray to the animals to grant their wishes for health, wealth, and a good harvest.
These crocodiles are considered sacred creatures with a mystical connection to the place and its people instead of being seen as a sinister presence. Crocodiles also play the part of a soothsayer here. Some village elders interpret their foreboding cries and offer prayers to ward off bad luck.
As a local inhabitant reported, the crocodiles are regarded as representations of “the soul of our ancestors,” and in case of death, they are buried with proper funeral rituals, the same as a human being.
Why are these West African crocodiles relatively docile?
The Nile crocodile is an iconic species and an apex predator that rules the underwater realm of Africa. It is known for its exceptionally large size, its ability to hunt down prey with astounding precision, and its ferocious nature. What, then, makes these revered crocodiles act against their very own nature? One of the reasons may be that they are a different species altogether.
Genetic analysis has recently revealed that the population inhabiting central and Western Africa is a distant cousin of their Nile counterpart. The genus of Nile crocodiles is Crocodylus niloticus, whereas the genus of the West African crocodiles found in Bazoule is Crocodylus suchus. Also known as the “Desert crocodile,” they are smaller in size, less aggressive, and relatively more docile. They inhabit many such sacred pools peppered across Western Africa and are worshiped by the people. This difference, new to us, was apparently common knowledge in Ancient Egyptian civilization. Ancient Greek historian Herodotus made the observation of how this particular species, due to its unique characteristics, was raised in Egyptian temples.
The future of this unique human-crocodile friendship hangs in a perilous balance.
The mind-boggling friendship between the people of Bazoule and their sacred crocodiles has not only shaped the village’s cultural identity but also attracted tourists from around the world. Visitors can experience this for themselves by feeding them or leaning on their rugged backs. The influx of tourists has provided an economic backbone to this otherwise impoverished region. It has also helped raise awareness about the importance of conserving these unique animals.
However, this one-of-a-kind ecosystem is under the threat of extinction, as global warming is causing the water bodies to dry up, drastically decreasing the habitats of these animals. Moreover, constant attacks by extremist insurgency factions take a deadly toll on the delicate relationship between the people and animals of this land.
How long will this friendship last? Will this be a living legacy passed down through generations? Or will it end up being one of the many “Unbelievable Facts” lost in the annals of history? Only time will tell.
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