Paga Crocodiles


Paga is a very small town with its own market North of Navrongo right on the Ghana/Burkina Faso border. Paga's claim to fame is its famous crocodiles.

Legend has it that long ago a hunter was trapped between a pond and a pursuing lion. He made a bargain with a crocodile he saw in the pond that he and his decendents would never eat crocodile meat if the crocodile helped him cross the pond and escape from the lion. The crocodile agreed and the hunter was safely carried across. The hunter established his house and later a village.

Adu Abiyara, who is from Paga, has an alternative story about the origin of Paga. Mr. Adu writes 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 decendants should ever eat a crocodile. Mr. Abiyara remembers reading this story from "Legends of Northern Ghana" by D. John-Parsons, Longman, Green and Co. Ltd, which is a book of original legends taken from the storytelling tradition in Ghana.

To this day there are plenty of crocodiles in the Paga pond and crocodile meat is forbidden. At the Paga pond you can see people collecting water or doing their wash very close to crocodiles. It is even believed that every decendent of the hunter has a personal crocodile. When a decendent dies his personal crocodile crawls to the dead man's doorstep and also dies.

On the more commercial side of things the crocodiles have brought a sort of road-side tourist attraction to Paga. Self-made guides will (for a fee of course) take tourists to the pond and show them the crocodiles. Below you'll see the general procedure.


The first step is for the self-made guide to extract several thousand cedis from you. In return you get a scrawny juvenile chicken and a crocodile caller. Here's a shot of the crocodile caller waving and shaking the bird in the air.


If the crocodile needs some more coaxing the crocodile caller will fling the chicken into the pond to entice the crocodile up onto the sandy edge of the pond.


The crocodile then walks up a few feet from the ponds edge and *THUMP* falls heavily onto its belly. It is in this state that silly tourists (like myself!) can pose for pictures around the seemingly sluggish crocodile.

After all the pictures have been taken, everyone steps back. The crocodile caller flings the chicken into the air. And faster then the eye can see, the crocodile snaps his jaws with a thunderous *BOOM*. If you look closely you'll see the mangled chicken in the crocodile's jaws.


If you're heading North from Paga you'll hit the Ghana/Burkina Faso border in about a mile. Here's the sign that say's "Bye Bye Safe Journey" as you leave Ghana. This sign was also the the cover photo of a Steve Tibbett's record, Safe Journey (ECM record label).


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Last updated on March 9, 2004.

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