The Paga Crocodile is the most popular crocodile pond in the country. It is located in the north-eastern border of the country, some forty (40) km from Bolgatanga, along the Burkina Faso border and 12 km from the town of Navrongo. The Paga Crocodile Pond is the sacred sanctuary for crocodiles which are said to be the totems of the Kassena people who reside in Paga and its neighbouring villages. For this reason, the crocodiles move freely within the environs of the ponds and even at times, visit some of the homes of the local people.
History Of Paga Crocodile Pond
The Paga crocodile pond has demonstrated buoyancy and flexibility in the protracted history of the mutual co-existence between the indigenes of Paga and their friendly crocodiles. A body of myth and totemic relationships span the elongated past of the residence of Paga and crocodiles. With a great deal of zeal, the leaders in the Paga community would be ever ready to narrate to you the story of the rescue of their ancestors by the crocodiles during their historical difficult days.
Legend has it that long ago a hunter was trapped between a pond and a pursuing lion. He made a bargain with a crocodile in the pond that he and his decedents would never eat crocodiles if the crocodile helped him cross the pond and escape from the lion. The crocodile agreed helped the hunter cross the pond. The hunter established his house and later a village.
An alternate story has it that the founder of Paga, Nave by name, actually came from Leo in Burkina Faso. Nave left Leo because his dog had been killed by his parents for sacrifice. He left home and went wondering and lost his way and ran short of water. He then began to search for water and found this crocodile which led him to water hole now called Katogo. It was then he decided that that spot was where he was going to settle. He therefore decreed that none of his descendants should ever eat a crocodile.
The crocodiles found there are said to be the friendliest crocodiles in Ghana and it is believed that the souls of the royal family reside in them as a result it is a taboo to harm them. According to dependable sources, the death of most of the important individuals in the town coincided with the deaths of some of the biggest crocodiles in the revered pond.
Features of the pond
Till date, there are abundance of crocodiles in the Paga pond and crocodile meat is prohibited. There are two main crocodile ponds in the area and are close to each other. The first one which is located on the highway 12 km from Navrango is called as the Chief Pond and the other is the Zenga Crocodile Pond, five minutes drive off the main road to the Paga border. At the pond the crocodiles are lured out the water with a live chicken by the guide at the pond. The crocodiles are attracted by the noise of the chicken and gradually move out of the water to the banks of the pond. Anyone can then have a close encounter with the crocodiles or take a picture with them.
The crocodiles at Paga co-exist with the inhabitants of the villages and it is against the customs of the area to harm or kill or even show any sign of disrespect to the crocodiles. It is common to find children and visitors sitting on the back of the crocodiles or lifting their heavy tails. It is however not permitted for anyone to stand too close to the proboscis of the crocodile. It is one of the safe guides used at the site. Another is that, visitors should not be crowded too close to the pond. The chicken that is used by the guide to entice the crocodiles to come out of the pond is bought by the visitors at the site.
The fees charged at this site ranges from ¢2.00 to ¢5.0 Ghanaian cedi depending on the size of the group. However, at Zenga, each visitor who wishes to sit on the crocodile is made to pay ¢2.00.
How To Get There
Travelling to Paga is easy. The distance from the capital, Accra to Paga is about 360 miles. One can easily reach this place as it is connected by good road network. From the capital Accra, you can either go by air with an inter-city link or starbow fight to Tamale (Capital) or board a trotro or rent and taxi to the park. Cost of intra-flight to Tamale range between Gh¢ 100 and Gh¢ 200. You can also choose to go by a rented car, trotro (relatively cheaper than rented cars), STC or the popular metro mass transit from Accra to Tamale. The distance from Tamale to Page is also about three and half hour drive). A trotro or taxi will be the most ideal option.