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Page 3 Profile: Ho Van Lang, jungle dweller


He looks a little confused.

Ho Van Lang isn’t accustomed to the glare of the cameras. Nor is the 41-year-old, dressed in a loincloth fashioned from tree bark, particularly used to crowds of people. For the past four decades, he has been living deep in the Vietnamese jungle with his father, 82-year-old Ho Van Thanh. In the thick, hot forests of Quang Ngai province, they grew corn to supplement a diet of scavenged fruits and animals hunted with arrows.

How did they end up so far from society?

Mr Ho fled his home village in 1971 during the Vietnam War after his wife was killed by a landmine. He took his baby son with him.

How were they discovered?

The Vietnamese media claimed that a party of local people happened upon them, and were startled by their unusual appearance. Authorities were informed, and after a five-hour search on Thursday the pair were discovered living in a tree house five metres up. Inside the makeshift home were the father’s military trousers and a baby’s red coat. Mr Ho was carried out of the forest in a hammock, accompanied by his son.

Was this their first human  contact in 40 years?

Mr Ho’s other son, Ho Van Tri, tracked them down almost two decades after the end of the war  in 1975. He tried to persuade  them to return to modern society, but they preferred to keep their own company.

Now, it seems they have no choice.

They’re being given medical checks and it is hoped they will be reintegrated into society, but it will be a hard road. The elderly man no longer speaks, while his son has command of just a few words in the local Cor dialect.