The village of Sabou, in Upper Volta, has long had a custom of keeping sacred alligators--to protect the villagers against warring tribes, to bring rain for the crop and a plentiful harvest.
GV PAN Grass huts of village & market place (2 shots)
CU Sign pointing to sacred alligator pool
LV Alligator pool
SV Village boys at edge of water
MV Alligator near shore.
SV Four village boys washing clothes near water's edge
CU Alligator disturbed by branch thrown at it swims off
GV Hens tethered by leg for use as bait (3 shots)
SV, MV & CU Boy teases alligator with chicken (3 shots)
SV & CU Alligator snaps at chicken and bites (4 shots)
SV Alligator catches chicken on string
SV Boy in water holds alligator by tail then releases it.
Initials LD/JF/BB/2221 LD/JF/BB/2313
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Background: The village of Sabou, in Upper Volta, has long had a custom of keeping sacred alligators--to protect the villagers against warring tribes, to bring rain for the crop and a plentiful harvest. Today, the fifty alligators which live in the local pool, are more of a tourist attraction than a religious symbol -- but they still lead a very good life.
Local Children are so accustomed to the reptiles, that they even wash their clothes in the alligators' pool--or tease the huge animals with branches and stones.
In days gone by, the alligators were fed on sheep and hares-sacrificed in solemn ceremonies by the Village Chiefs. Their meals now are chickens, which the children tie to a string and a dangle before the alligators to make them snap their mighty jaws while trying to catch the morsels.
The alligators, whose powerful tail could break a man's back with a flick, are most playful in their game of "catch the chicken" -- but the local children know that they must keep on their toes not to slip during the feeding, or the game could quickly turn into a tragedy.
Once they have eaten, through, the alligators are almost docile--and the boys can actually hold them by their trails and drag them back into the swamp.