“A feral child is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has little or no experience of human care, behaviour, or crucially, of human language.”
—— Feral Child, Wikipedia
Since ages, mankind has been a witness to several cases of feral children that were disturbing and have stunned all. In most of the cases the children were the victims of abuse usually by their parents or were simply abandoned by them. Instead of finding comfort amidst fellow human beings, these children found solace in the lap of wilds and were brought up and taken care by animals in most of the cases. There have been over hundreds of reported cases of feral children, many of which created quite a sensation on discovery. Let us take a look at 10 of such disturbing and famous cases of feral children of all time:
It was in the year 1972 when a little boy was discovered playing with the wolf cubs in the wilds of Musafirkhana, approximately 20 miles away from Sultanpur, India. Even though he was not very inclined towards raw meat, he was quite wild in his attitude towards others when he was being taken to the village of Narayanpur. He had a very dark skin, long-hooked fingernails, sharpened teeth, love for darkness and friendship with dogs and jackals. He was later admitted to Mother Teresa’s Home for the Destitute and Dying in Lucknow where he was known as Pascal. Unfortunately, Pascal died in 1985 at quite a young age.
9. John Ssebunya
In 1991, John Ssebunya was discovered with a pack of moneys in the wilds of Uganda by a villager Milly. He was last seen in 1988 amidst human civilization, aged 2-3 when his father successfully escaped after murdering his mother. It is believed that since that incident John was living in the wilds along with the monkeys who befriended him and taught him to survive in the wilds. He was brought to Milly’s village where he spent quite some time learning human language and speech. In October 1992, he went to Britain as part of the 20 children of Pearl of Africa’s Children’s Choir.
8. Traian Caldarar
A rather recent case of 2002 and yet another case of Mowgli syndrome, Traian Caldarar is often referred to as the Romanian Dog Boy or Mowgli. He was said to be living away from his family for three years since the age of 4. He was found to be highly malnourished when he was discovered. He was also diagnosed with rickets, poor circulation and several wounds were also begin discovered on his body. Traian found his initial shelter in the house of a shepherd boy, the same person who discovered him from the wilds. The shepherd later reported that Traian would sleep under his bed always instead of sleeping on it. In 2007 Train was reported to be progressing well in his training and was studying at a school in grade 3. A rare and unique case of feral children Traian was reported to be adjusting quickly and easily with his “changed” environment. He even liked it all in his school with all the toys and colors and drawings. He is reportedly a fast learner of human language, a rare quality among feral children.
7. The Wild Girl of Champagne
Marie Angelique Memmie Le Blanc, popularly known as The Wild Girl of Champagne, was a famous feral child of 18th century France. She was identified as a native American on discovery and was said to be surviving in wilds for more than 9 years. She is one of few cases of feral children who learnt to read and write coherently. She died at 63 years, in 1775 in Paris, making her a rare case as most of feral children usually do not live long after their discovery as, in most of the cases, they are not able to adapt to the sudden change of their environment, which they often perceive as an unwanted intrusion. Even though she later on mixed quite well with the civilized environment around her, she initially refused to eat anything given to her, and preferred eating rabbits, grass roots and other things readily available in the wilds.
6. Oxana Malaya
One of the most sensational cases of feral children, Oxana Malaya was a 8 year old feral child found in Ukraine in 1991. She was said to have lived most of her 8 years long life in the company of dogs resulting in her behaving like one. After she was brought back to the human world she found it difficult to master human behavior or language. Having several dog-like habits Oxana’s came from a background of alcoholic parents living in an impoverished area where the wild dogs were her only companion. She lived in a dog kennel behind her house where she was cared for by the dogs. Consequently she picked up a lot of their habits and mannerisms. She growled, barked and crouched like a wild dog. She even sniffed her food many times before finally eating it. She was found to have extremely acute senses of smell, hearing, smell and sight.
5. Prava, The Russian Bird Boy
A case of Mowgli syndrome, a seven year old boy, Vanya Yudin, was being rescued by Russian healthcare workers after being discovered living in a two-bedroom apartment with his mother and many of his feathered friends. The boy cam to be known as Prava, the Bird Boy in the media and was reported to be a victim of extreme psychological abuse by his mother. Though his mother never harmed him physically but she never spoke to him even for a single second. Instead of a human being, he was treated as the other pets of his house by his mother, consequently making him behave like one. When any communication was being attempted with him he reportedly used to just chirp and wave his hands just like the birds waving their wings.
4. The Cambodian Jungle Girl
On January 13, 2007, a woman was discovered from the forests of Ratanakiri province in Cambodia. A family of a nearby village claimed her to be their long-lost daughter Rochom P’ngieng (born 1979) who had disappeared 18 or 19 years back. The story made a sensational news in the media as according to the available facts Rochom was a feral child who spent most of life living in the wilds. After her discovery she was brought back to the human world but was being reported to find difficulties adjusting to her new and civilized life. She was also reported to learn only a few words, three to be exact: father, mother, and stomachache. She reportedly used hand gestures mostly while communicating with others.
3. Wild Boy of Aveyron
One of earliest recorded cases of feral children, the Wild Boy of Aveyron created quite a sensation throughout 18th century till mid 19th century in France. Repeated sightings of a human child was reported in the woods of Saint Sernin sur Rance in the years 1798 and 1799. But it was not until 1800 that the human child could be caught and came to be known as the Wild Boy of Aveyron. Being back to the civilization did not help him much as he was not able to communicate with anybody at all. He was successful in escaping as many as 8 times into the wilds but each time, quite to his dismay, he was “captivated” again and again and brought back to civilization.
2. Kamala and Amala
Probably the most famous case of feral children, Kamala and Amala were two young girls captured in October 1920 from Midnapore district of West Bengal. They were discovered from a huge abandoned anthill squatted by wolves. The girls reportedly had misshapen jaws, elongated canines and glowing eyes that shone in the dark. Amala died the following year but Kamala survived till 1929, by which time she had learnt few words of human communication and learnt also to walk upright.
In 1724, “a naked, brownish, black-haired creature” was being captured from Hanover. This was the first ever reported case of feral child also came to be known as Wild Peter who was aged 12 when discovered. Climbing trees and living on plants were really not quite a task for this young boy, though he was completely incapable of speech. Reportedly, he refused bread when offered to eat. Rather, he preferred stripping off the bark from green twigs and suck on the sap. He was eventually being presented at the royal court of George I. After spending 68 years approximately amidst civilization, “Peter” and “King George” were the only words that he ever learnt to speak, though he had acute sense of hearing and smell.