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Toddler Survives 6 Days In Kenyan Wilderness, Surrounded By Lions, Hyenas and Jackals

A small African boy survived living alone without shelter or food in the Kenyan wilderness for almost a week.

A rescue team found the child days after his brothers lost him while herding cattle through a storm.

The 4-year-old boy from the Asa Village in Kenya went missing on Nov. 28 in the Tsavo East National Park and remained lost for six days. The village chief immediately organized a search party to locate the child, according to Newsweek.

Boy survives days alone in wilderness
A 4-year-old boy is found after going missing in the Tsavo East National Park. (Photo: YouTube screenshot/Njau’s Travel Media)

The boy got lost after accompanying his brothers as they did the chore of livestock herding and became separated after a fierce storm emerged.

Citizen Digital reports about 70 people were initially enlisted to help track the boy down. They unsuccessfully canvassed over 5,307 square miles of the park on foot. The next day, the chief reached out to a man he was told helped locate a different boy in the area days before the recent storm to see if he could help.

“The chief had heard people from the neighboring town speaking about a pilot who helped find a missing child just a few days prior. After hearing these stories, he too asked for aerial assistance,” Roan Carr-Hartley, a pilot for the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, explained to Standard Media.

After he agreed to assist the village, he used his plane to search the park, one of the largest in the country, from an aerial view.

“It was too late to initiate a search that night, but the following morning, I left Kaluku HQ at around 6:15 am and flew 70 minutes to reach the boy’s village. By the time I was overhead, a search party of 70 men were fanning through the wild scrubland in search of the little boy,” Carr-Hartley said.

The pilot explained he gave specific instructions to the village search party to follow, coming up with a plan of communication that would help him while he was flying to know what they were doing.

“With no way of communicating with them while I was in the air, I had organized for the search party to walk with a white cloth tied to a long stick, which would make it easier to find them in the dense bush. After locating the group in this area, I began my search,” he said.

During the first four hours of his search, Carr-Hartley said he saw nothing but some wild dogs and empty fuel tanks.

“After refueling, I flew back later in the day to resume the search. I flew for another 3.5 hours before we ran out of daylight, and I had to return to base. It seemed hopeless searching for a tiny boy in such a huge expanse of wilderness. There have been times where I haven’t been able to locate a particular elephant for up to a week, let alone a 4-year-old child,” Hartley recalled.

To make matters worse, the boy’s tracks, which last situated him approximately 7 kilometers from Asa, were washed away by the torrential rain that continued to downpour.

Boy Found in Kenyan Wilderness
A man holds a 4-year-old boy after he is found six days after disappearing in the Tsavo East National Park. (Photo: YouTube screenshot/Njau’s Travel Media)

“The chief and the boy’s family determined that in the absence of fresh tracks and a general area to narrow down the search, nothing more could be done from the air. It would be a case of looking for a needle in a haystack. Instead, the search party would continue on foot,” said Hartley.

On Dec. 3, the search party, which never gave up hope, found some of the boy’s tracks 15 kilometers from the village. They kept looking, despite it being nighttime, and contacted Carr-Hartley so that he could take to the sky one more time.

“I was in shock that the boy was still alive, let alone walking. After nearly a week of heavy rainfall, with no food and predators roaming the area, one can be forgiven for losing hope,” said Hartley.

“However, hope had been reignited, and I was incredibly eager to keep searching,” he said. “I kept thinking of the poor little guy alone out there and wanted to do everything possible to find him — even if it seemed like an impossible mission.”

Still, the boy was not spotted, and the pilot said, “I almost gave up.”

The following day he flew an additional 70 minutes. Though the search party was focused and had heart, their bodies were breaking down, having only survived “off milk mixed with water” and unable to communicate in the way they had over the last few days.

So, the pilot decided to keep at it alone.

“Off my left wing, I saw a tiny figure below me, surrounded by a mass of shrubs and trees. I could not believe my eyes, but there he was: a tiny boy surrounded by endless wilderness. I was in shock that he was still alive and walking. I had not even begun to look for the boy; at that point, I was still searching for the group, which made it 10 times harder to believe what had just happened,” he said.

Villagers celebrate the rescue of a toddler who went missing in the Tsavo East National Park. (Photo: YouTube screenshot/Njau’s Travel Media)

The boy was found on the fifth day of Carr-Hartley’s mission, bunched up in a thicket of trees and bush and almost hiding from the plane, maintaining on his own without any traditional resources, over 11 miles away.

Though covered with mosquito bites, appearing weak, and suffering from malnutrition, the child was safe and sound.

“He was obviously hypoglycaemic and stumbling as he walked. I immediately gained altitude and began to circle tightly, keeping my eyes fixed on him. In a land where everything looks the same, once you lose sight of something, it can be very difficult to find it again,” said Hartley. “With no way of communicating with the search party, I was trying to figure out how to get a team to him when the nearest village was 18 kilometers away.”

He circled the area for three hours straight, getting the attention of members of the search party, who went over to the area. Three men were in proximity to the boy. Carr-Harley opened the door of his craft, pointed to where the boy was, and they “began running” to the spot.

“They eventually got to the boy, who was frozen still in disbelief that his ordeal was over. Upon reaching him, they lifted him above their shoulders and began cheering and chanting,” said Carr-Hartley, adding, “It was a sight that made me well up as I watched from above. Finding him was a near-impossible objective, but somehow the stars aligned, and he happened to be standing in a small, open area at the very moment I decided to turn.”

For those days, he was surrounded by all types of wild animals, such as hyenas, jackals, elephants, lions and rhinos, yet the child had no bite marks or major injuries outside of a pair of feet full of blisters and cuts.

The child was taken back to his village, where his family welcomed his return.

As a token of appreciation, Carr-Hartley received a billy goat. He also said he received a great honor connecting him and the boy forever.

“I received a message from the boy’s parent’s later with the update that their son has fully recovered and is out playing with his friends,” Carr-Hartley said. “They also shared that they have added Roan to his name, which left me very touched. His friends have nicknamed him ‘Pilot’ — a wonderful way to commemorate his six-day saga!”

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