Please Don’t Throw Stones at our Crocodiles

stoning crocodiles

Attention, danger of crocodiles. Don’t approach them. Don’t disturb them. Don’t throw stones at them. Good advice all around from the Burkina Faso parks department. I encountered this sign while riding my new bicycle today, in the same urban forest park that I visited a few weeks ago (detailed in the blog post “A Walk In The Woods”). This time, with the bike, I was able to see the whole park. The sign was posted next to a nice bit of wetland which could conceivably have hosted a crocodile

wetland ibis

though I didn’t see any. That little white thing to the right of center on the far side of the small bit of open water is an ibis, I believe, a wading bird often associated (in ancient Egyptian iconography) with the crocodile.

Also, although it has been raining on the weatherperson’s map for a couple of weeks, in actual fact we have had no rain here since the 20th or so of last month. So the little bridge over the stream that runs through the center of the park, which looked like this on the 14th


Now looks like this

bridge 1

Speaking of nice, clean urban streams, by the way, this one flows out of the main reservoir, through the park, and through the northeastern part of the city. I don’t drink tap water here, but I do use it for teeth brushing, washing, filling my CPAP machine, etc. This is on its way to (or from, I’m a little unclear on where the intake point is) being tap water.

The park is quite big. I was riding for about an hour inside the park, not in any particular hurry, but I estimate I must have ridden five or six miles. There is a big children’s playground


Completely deserted, unfortunately. And this on a Saturday afternoon, the week after classes began in state elementary and secondary schools (though not at the university, more on that later). I didn’t get the story from anybody, but I suspect it is a matter of not having enough funds for maintenance and operations. Somebody gave them the money for the playground equipment (including a little train you can see in the foreground), but presumably like many a development project, the ongoing operation costs were supposed to be borne by the recipient government, and the funds just aren’t there. In fact, at the entrance nearest the playground, I saw this bit of artwork

Without cultural awareness

The scroll at the bottom is a little hard to read, but it says “outside of the cultural language, there is no development.” The folks who built the beautiful playground would have done well to read that article.

And, unfortunately, the termites have been at work on the scroll and probably soon it will be impossible to read.

The temperature was in the 30s – the high today is predicted at 36, or 97 for my American friends. I’m happy to report that while riding the bicycle it did not seem oppressively hot. I did stop on the way back at a bar and had a bottle of water (which I drank in about 2 minutes) and a bottle of beer (that I made last for a while). They are advertising steak for dinner, I may return.

3 thoughts on “Please Don’t Throw Stones at our Crocodiles

  1. Is “lapider” the usual verb for “to throw stones” or is that an Africanism?

    The ibis was sacred to Thoth, the god of wisdom and the inventor of writing. I don’t remember any association with crocodiles.


      1. The way the word is used here, it just means “to throw stones at.” So when the kids were playing outside, somebody threw a stone at someone else and the verb was used when describing the crisis to me. I suddenly have a bunch of new children that I have to control with diplomacy instead of inherent authority…


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