After getting lost for six days in a dangerously predator-infested wilderness, a 4-year-old boy miraculously made it out alive.
The youngster somehow made it over 11 miles from his home in Asa, Kenya, which is close to the Tsavo East wildlife reserve.
He was discovered six days later by pilot Roan Carr-Hartley, who works for the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a Tsavo-based organization that rescues and rehabilitates orphan elephants.
The boy had gotten separated from his brothers during a storm as they returned home from a day of herding livestock, Carr-Hartley told Newsweek. Asa’s local chief had contacted the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to ask if they could use their aircraft to help the search party combing the area.
Carr-Hartley said: "A search party went out looking but couldn't find him, so they began to follow tracks." They did an amazing job tracking him for countless days without food.
"It was an unforgiving environment for any person to be alone, let alone a child so young."
The pilot wrote: "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." Four hours of scanning the sea of vegetation revealed nothing but an empty fuel tank and various animals, including hyenas and jackals.
"It was an unforgiving environment for any person to be alone, let alone a child so young." However, because of heavy rains, there was no shortage of surface water. "This at least gave me some peace of mind that the boy would be able to find water."
Late on December 3—five nights after the boy first went missing—the chief contacted Sheldrick Wildlife Trust again to say that the search party had found the boy's tracks, but they were nine miles from the village.
The pilot wrote: "After nearly a week of heavy rainfall, with no food and predators roaming the area, one can be forgiven for losing hope."
But eventually, Carr-Hartley made his miraculous discovery.
"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," he wrote.
"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."
The child had barely eaten in a week, was suffering from malnutrition, and was covered in insect bites, but he was alive and was soon being cared for by doctors.
The child's friends have given him a nickname to remind him of how he was rescued. They now call him "Pilot.".