These semi-aquatic reptiles that are considered predators or dangerous creatures are considered sacred creatures in a village 30 kilometers from the capital Ouagadougou.
The tale being that the village of Bazoule in Burkina Faso was in a grip of an agonizing drought until the crocodile led the women to a hidden pond where the population could quench their thirst. The villagers then organized a party to appreciate the reptiles.
In an interview with the indigenes, one of the interviewees said “we got used to the crocodiles when we were young, swimming in the water with them and all that, now we can always approach them and sit on them and if you have the courage, you can lie on them too. There is no problem, they are sacred crocodiles. They do not do anything to anyone”.
This unusual relationship between the two species dates back to at least the 15th century, according to local legend.
They are believed to have a mystical connection with Bazoule. The crocodiles represent the souls of their ancestors and if one of them dies, they are buried and a funeral is performed as if they were humans.
A celebration known as Koom Lakre is still held every year for the crocodiles. During this celebration, the villagers make sacrifices and ask the reptiles to grant their wishes of health, prosperity and a good harvest.
It is said that when misfortune is about to befall this village, these revered creatures cry out. The elders of the village are charged with interpreting these cries and making wishes to ward off the bad luck.
This place has become a tourist attraction. Foreigners come here to see the friendly crocodiles and take pictures with them. The tourists can buy chicken on arrival which is hung on a stick by a guide and used to bait the crocodile out of the pond so that they can pose with the creature.
Tourism has become an economic boost for this village.