Hero Boy Survives Without Food in Heavy Rainfall and Predator-Infested Wilderness for Six Days

"Looking for a needle in a haystack."

A four-year-old boy managed to stay alive for six days in the wilds of Kenya, without food, enduring heavy rainfall and avoiding dangerous predators, the London Times reported this week. The boy, known as Ayub, had been herding livestock with his older brothers when they were separated by a sudden rainstorm. A search party looked for Ayub for days, but it wasn't until aircraft joined the search that a pilot spotted the youngster 11 miles from his village. Read on to find out how the boy survived in the harsh conditions and what went into the remarkable search that brought him back home. 

"Looking for a Needle in a Haystack"

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Ayub's village is Asa, near Tsavo East National Park in Kenya. When the boy went missing, elders contacted the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. They asked if the organization could use its aircraft to aid in the search. Pilot Roan Carr-Hartley, 22, was called into action, tracking the boy's footprints from the air. "The area where he was lost is some of the most vast and unforgiving in the country," Carr-Hartley told the Times. "It really was a case of looking for a needle in a haystack."

70-Person Search Party Found Nothing

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

"By the time I was overhead, a search party of 70 men were fanning through the wild scrubland in search of the little boy," said Carr-Hartley. Almost five miles from the village, the boy's tracks disappeared. Days of searching turned up nothing. Then heavy rain washed away any tracks. But the search party pressed on, surviving on rations of milk mixed with water.

On Day Six, a Sighting

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

On the sixth day of searching, Carr-Hartley spotted Ayub. "Off my left wing, I saw a tiny figure below me, surrounded by a mass of shrubs and trees," he said. "I could not believe my eyes but there he was, a tiny boy surrounded by endless wilderness." He added: "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."

How He Survived

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Carr-Hartley circled in the air, alerting the search party to Ayub's location. When the men reached the four-year-old, they hoisted him to their shoulders in celebration, the Times reported. When he was discovered, Ayub was malnourished and covered in insect bites and scratches from thorny bushes. He survived by drinking pooled rainwater and eating seed pods.

A Reunion and A Reward

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Ayub's mother cried tears of joy when he returned. The boy's family has said that he's fully recovered from his ordeal. For his efforts, Carr-Hartley was awarded a billy goat by the villagers. "Still a couple of days on, I can't believe it ended the way it did," he said. "It was a flood of disbelief, happiness, and immense relief."

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