'Siberian Mowgli' found after spending 16 years living in the wilderness
Heather Saul is a digital reporter for The Independent, currently working on the People desk. She has written news and features across a number of topics, paying particular attention to the activities of Isis and events in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Thursday 12 September 2013
Russian authorities have discovered a young man in the Siberian forest who said he had been living in a hut with his parents for the last 16 years, according to local officials.
The man, who was found by a resident in the Siberian village of Belokurikha, said he was born in 1993 and moved into the forest in 1997 with his family, after they had decided to detach from society.
Russian media have now dubbed him the "forest boy" or "Siberian Mowgli", drawing parallels between the man and the protagonist in Rudyard Kipling's novel The Jungle Book.
He finally left the forest and went to a nearby village asking for help when his parents abandoned him in May.
He was met by a local woman who escorted him to the prosecutors office for help. Police are now trying to determine the whereabouts of his mother and father, local media have reported.
The 20-year-old is understood to have never undergone an examination by a doctor or attended a school, but appears fit, healthy and educated.
The local prosecutors office has now appealed to the Russian court to have the man's identity documents reestablished to allow him to seek state support, prosecutor Roman Fomin told Russia Today. They are concerned the man may be forced to spend a winter in the harsh conditions of the Siberian forest alone, he said.
“He was just afraid that he won't survive the winter without his parents,” Fomin explained. “But maybe they have already come back.” He stressed that the parents were unlikely to face any criminal charges over their child's care, as there was no evidence of neglect or abuse.
He added that the parents decision to isolate the family by moving to the woods did not arrive from religious reasons, stating that he believes they are not "religious people".
“I am not sure if he needs all this attention,” he said. “He looked normal and healthy, he only spoke slowly, since he doesn't communicate as often as most people.”
The man, whose identity remains unknown, is understood to have since returned to the hut he emerged from in the woods.
The man's story echoes other cases of people being discovered in remote areas of Siberia, such as Andrei Tolstyk, a seven-year-old boy who was found living amongst wild dogs after being abandoned by his parents in 2004.
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