WEWAK (EAST SEPIK) - The East Sepik River is one of the largest unpolluted rivers in the Asia-Pacific region. It is also home to the world’s largest population of salt water and fresh water crocodiles.
The annual 2 day Crocodile Festival is celebrated in Ambunti in the East Sepik Province. Initiated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Festival is aimed at putting a spot light on the conservation of the natural habitat of the fresh water and salt water crocodiles of Papua New Guinea.
The endangered reptiles are under threat of extinction due to the damage to their environment from ongoing mining, logging and agricultural activities. Commercial exploitation for their skins and eggs also adds to their possible demise.
For the Sepik people, the crocodile is a large part of their heritage, where man and animal share a special bond. The festival celebrates the coming of age ceremony where village men are given tattoos resembling crocodile skin. The crocodile for the Sepik people, represents strength, power and manhood.
The WWF hope, by supporting the festival and promoting it internationally, that the Sepik people themselves become enthusiastic about preserving the diverse culture and biodiversity of their region, when they see that the tourism activity it attracts can economically support them.
The Crocodile Festival is little known to tourists and provides an authentic “last frontier” experience. The Festival is held on the 8th to the 9th of August this year. [EMTV]