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Little Boy Lost for 6 Days in Harsh Kenyan Wilderness is Rescued: ‘An Amazing Moment’
Kenya’s vast Tsavo East National Park is no place for the solitary. It’s easy to get lost in the dense bush, a fact 4-year-old Ayub from the Asa community will remember for the rest of his life.
The boy faced a terrifying ordeal, lost for 6 days amid a territory 66% larger than Yellowstone, and populated by killers like elephants, buffalo, and rhinos.
But this story of survival had a happy ending thanks to the help of two Kenyan-British pilots: The Carr-Harleys—Roan and Taru.
“When I was flying around, I saw lots of hyenas, jackals, and it was pouring with rain,” Roan Carr-Hartley, a helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft pilot who works with his brother at Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, told CBS News about the rescue efforts.
“It’s such a harsh and unforgiving environment for a tiny boy, there’s nothing or no one there. And so you start worrying and fearing the worst, you feel so hopeless.”
Ayub went missing from his village during a storm. The community chief had phoned the Carr-Hartleys asking for help because he and some other villagers were already tracking the boy’s footprints.
They searched for days with no luck, until on the 6th, Roan got a call from the chief saying they had picked up fresh tracks about 15 kilometers north of their village, and shortly after arriving in the area, Roan spotted Ayub under his left wing, describing him as this “tiny guy in the middle of nowhere” who was weak and stumbling.
Coordinating with the searchers on the ground, it was Ayub’s uncle who got to him first, picking him up and swinging him in the air.
Roan explained that it’s tradition in Asa culture to chant songs of gratitude on a walk back to the village.
“When his mother saw him, she just burst into tears. She couldn’t believe it. She was totally in hysterics,” Roan said. “He also reunited with his dad and the rest of his family. It was an amazing moment. Doctors arrived, we administered first aid, replenished his electrolytes, and tested him for malaria.”
MORE STORIES OF SURVIVAL: 3 Children and a Baby Survived for Weeks in Colombian Jungle After Their Plane Crashed
While Roan and his brother Taru normally are looking for humans with malintent (poachers) and rescue four-legged members of the Tsavo East community (elephants), Ayub is not the first person they’ve rescued this year.
GNN reported on a Sheldrick Wildlife Trust release in May when the brothers piloted their helicopter to the rescue of a tanker truck driver who had been stranded on a flooded road section.
Dwarfed by the angry river, the tanker had flipped onto its side, and the driver, James Rufus Kinyua, had climbed out of the cab and was lying on the door. Slowly, the pilot lowered the helicopter closer and closer to the tanker where the driver sat crouched in the swirling winds from both the flooding and the rotors.
MORE KENYA STORIES: Anti-Poaching Helicopter Attempts Daring Rescue Inches Above Swirling Floodwaters–WATCH
“I was told he had been there since 10 am, in extreme fear I am sure,” Taru Carr-Hartley told Nation Africa. “He was hanging half out of the window, lying on top of the truck, and I could see the windscreen was smashed and the whole cabin was filled with water.”
All in a day’s work for the Carr-Hartleys, born as the third generation of British-Kenyans who work in wildlife conservation and biology in the East African nation.
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