The vast Tsavo East National Park in Kenya is not a place for solitary individuals. It is easy to get lost in the dense forest, an experience that 4-year-old Ayub from the Asa community will never forget.
The boy faced an incredible ordeal, being lost for six days in an area 66% larger than Yellowstone National Park and filled with elephants, buffaloes, and rhinoceroses.
But this survival story had a happy ending thanks to the help of two Kenyan and British pilots, Les Carr-Harley-Roan and Taru.
“While flying, I saw lots of hyenas, jackals, and it was raining heavily,” said Roan Carr-Hartley, a helicopter and airplane pilot who works with his brother at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, to CBS News, describing the rescue efforts.
“It’s such a wild and inhospitable place for a young boy, as there is nothing and no one nearby. You start worrying and imagining the worst-case scenario, feeling completely lost.”
Ayub went missing during a cyclone that hit his village. The community leader reached out to the Carr-Hartleys for help as he and other villagers had already found the child’s footprints.
The search went on for days without success until six days later when Roan received a phone call from the community leader informing him that they had discovered fresh tracks about 15 kilometers north of their village.
Shortly after passing through the area, Roan spotted Ayub under his left wing, describing him as a “tiny little guy in the middle of nowhere,” weak and trembling.
In collaboration with the ground search teams, Ayub’s uncle was the first to reach him, embracing him and lifting him up in the air.
“When his mother saw him, she burst into tears. She couldn’t believe it. She was completely overwhelmed,” explained Roan. “He also reunited with his father and the rest of his family. It was an extraordinary moment. First aid was provided, electrolytes were replenished, and a malaria test was conducted.”
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