In one of the Nubian homes at Gharb Soheil village overlooking the Nile River, an Egyptian young woman sat almost on the back of a large crocodile shut inside a roofless cement cage, posing for a photo.
“We know that crocodiles are wild but they have been raised here in Nubian houses so they aren’t that wild,” Toqa al-Masry from Kom Ombo city of Aswan Province told Xinhua.
The 26-year-old said she was afraid in the beginning until she was encouraged by the house owner to approach, touch and take a picture with the crocodile.
“I … enjoy this traditional Nubian atmosphere and see the crocodiles raised in the village,” she said as she checked her photos with the crocodile on her friend’s phone.
Mamdouh Ahmed, a owner of a Nubian tourist house, said the house has become a source of his income.
“The house is divided into three sections, one for crocodile display, one for selling Nubian handmade souvenirs and a third corner for serving hot tea,” the 40-year-old man said.
Ahmed has a large crocodile in the floor cement cage and a smaller one on a sofa where visitors can touch and play with it.
“This large crocodile has been here for 15 years. We brought it when it was a baby … while the small one is about six years old,” he said.
“It is so difficult to catch a small crocodile in the Nile as they will react violently. But now it has become domestic that you can hold and cuddle,” Ahmed noted, while helping a tourist carry the small crocodile in a correct way.
Not far away from Ahmed’s Nubian house, Sherif Khudary, an owner of a coffee shop, also has two huge crocodiles in a roofless cement cage.
“The two crocodiles are 19 and 20 years old. Their lifespan is similar to those of humans. They live for 80 to 100 years,” Khudary said, who also has a baby crocodile inside a glass box.
“I bought them some four weeks ago to bring luck to my coffee shop. We Nubians believe that crocodiles bring good luck,” he added.
Painted attractive blue and white, Fatouma Home is another coffee shop located near a hill in the village. It belongs to a Nubian woman in her 40s by the name of Fatouma.
“We have had these two huge crocodiles here for 18 years. We brought them when they were as small as lizards,” the woman told Xinhua.
Fatouma, who has eight crocodiles of different sizes, said she uses the animals to attract tourists to her cafe.
“We keep them in cages in different corners of the coffee shop to entertain the visitors,” she explained.
The experience of watching, or even touching a crocodile, seemed to be exciting for both local and foreign tourists.
An old tourist from Italy, who identified himself as Mario, said he can see shapes of crocodiles hanging on the doors of many places at the village.
“I can tell it is part of the history and tradition of the place. It’s interesting,” he said.c