The Sepik River Crocodile Festival is a three (3) day event held every year in East Sepik Province. Wewak is the capital of the Province and six (6) Districts namely: Ambunti-Dreikikir, Angoram, Maprik, Wewak, Wosera-Gawi and Yangoru-Saussia. The festival is held in Ambunti-Dreikikir District but sees participating groups from all Districts take part to show their beautiful culture and story.
The festival was started by World Wide Fund For Nature in 2007 to prevent burning of grass along the river which was destroying the crocodiles habitat. The festival has grown since its inception in 2007 resulting in putting the Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea on the world map through Arts, Culture and Tourism.
The festival showcases how the East Sepik people’s interactions with the crocodiles is their way of life. Children at a tender age are taught how to hunt, capture and hold a crocodile and this is showcased by them through plays during the festival. Many traditional ‘singsing’ groups perform and each dance tells a story of the village way of life or their unique relationship with the ‘pukpuk’ (crocodile). Also, tourists can see the men or women who have had their skin ceremonially cut to mimic the skin of the crocodile singing and dancing at the festival.
The festival aims to accomplish the following:
- Conserve the mighty Sepik river
- Promote tourism in Ambunti and East Sepik province as a whole
- Encourage the traditional arts & crafts in the province
- Motivate the young generation to learn, practice and ultimately keep alive their culture
- Collaborate and showcase the arts & crafts during the festival
- Bring economic benefits to the rural communities, districts, province and the nation as a whole.
The people of the Sepik Province are a very proud people holding onto their traditional beliefs and customs. When they dance and sing – this can be easily seen and felt.