“In Ghana, Tourism is a major pillar of the economy and is expected to be one of the key drivers of our socio-economic transformation through the creation of jobs , foreign exchange receipts, urban regeneration and the stimulation of local manufacturing to meet the diverse needs of the sector,” are the words of the former Minister for tourism and creative arts, Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare as she addressed awardees at last year’s edition of the Ghana Tourism awards.
With such exploits by the industry and it being one of the pillars for driving national development, one would have expected that the industry is given a major boost in order to maximize the profits gained from the industry.
However, the tourism industry has and continues to suffer neglect not from visitors but from the government which boasts of its financial potential of raking in huge foreign exchange for the country and helping in development.
One of such sites which have suffered neglect although it has the potential of providing the country with the needed revenue is the Zenga Crocodile Pond in Paga in the Upper East region.
The Zenga Crocodile pond was dredged in 1953 even before Ghana gained her independence from her colonial masters the British. The pond which was earlier dredged as a lake by a white man who wanted to “do something” for his girlfriend later became a Crocodile pond which is now home to almost 400 crocodiles in the Paga community.
The Crocodile Pond is a community Eco-tourism site and therefore run by the members of the Zenga community in Paga. The road leading to the facility has been deteriorated by gully erosion hence making the place very difficult to access.
Although, being the oldest pond in Paga, the facility has been left to rot as it lacks the basic infrastructure needed at an eco-tourism site. At the Zenga Crocodile pond, crocodiles have had to battle with animals of residents for water for survival because the facility has since it dredging not been fenced to fight unwarranted entry to the place. Herdsmen parade their cattle, sheep, goat to the facility to not only drink the water where the crocodiles exist but also feed on the green grass that provides warmth for the crocodiles when they come out of the water to rest.
“The pond needs desilting because gradually it is becoming shallow because the sand has taken over the pond. We need to desilt it because in May onwards when the number of crocodiles may increase, we will face challenges here because there will not be any space in the pond,” a tour guide at the facility, Salifu Awewozem said while addressing the challenges the tourist site will be faced with in the coming days if the needed investment is not channeled into the Zenga Pond.
Unlike other Community-based eco-tourism sites that have resting place for visitors and sometimes village type accommodation and eco-lodges, such cannot be said about the Zenga Crocodile pond in Paga. The facility could be likened to a desert. Visitors do not have the comfort of rest even on seats when they feel tired after touring the pond. One’s visit to the pond should always be a return journey since the facility cannot afford to host visitors for a night due to the lack of accommodation.
The lack of facilities at the Zenga lodge has had a trickling effect of the Crocodiles since according to Salifu, visitors shy away from visiting “the poor looking tourist site” and therefore the needed income to keep the animals in shape is lacking. He mentions that as a result, most of the crocodiles feed on animals that drink from the pond and fall prey to them.
Until authorities and government officials come to the aid of the Zenga Crocodile, it will continue to reel under these worrying conditions, the water will dry up and render the poor crocodiles without homes.
By: Offei-Akoto Ayeh/a1radioonline.com/Ghana