Woodcutters found a 10-year-old girl living among the monkeys in an Indian forest. She walked on her hands and legs, ate food from the ground with her mouth, and appeared to be starving. Although it sounds like a story out of Rudyard Kipling’s classic The Jungle Book, authorities believe it more likely that the girl was abandoned fairly recently by a family that did not want to take care of her.
The woodcutters reported running into the girl in the Katarniya Ghat forest range and wildlife sanctuary. She wore rags and crawled on her hands and knees among the animals. She could not communicate with people. When the woodcutters tried to approach her, they were chased away by monkeys.
The woodcutters alerted police about the girl living in the nature sanctuary with the monkeys. According to police officer Dinesh Tripathi, an officer investigated. He found her, but when he called out to her, the monkeys attacked.
“[The woodcutters] said the girl was naked and was very comfortable in the company of monkeys. When they tried to rescue the girl, they were chased away by the monkeys. When [the police officer] called the girl, the monkeys attacked him but he was able to rescue the girl. He sped away with her in his police car while the monkeys gave chase.”
This was from the interview that Officer Tripathi gave to the Associated Press. One officer speculated that the girl had been raised by and living among the monkeys since infancy.
She was taken to a hospital in the city of Bahraich. There, the chief medical officer reported that the girl arrived kicking, scratching, and screeching like an animal. After some time, doctors were able to rehabilitate the girl somewhat. Although she still will not speak, she smiles and appears to understand much of what the doctors say. Also, she has stopped crawling on the floor on her hands and knees. Doctors speculated that she may have been doing this because she was injured, not because she lacked the understanding of how to walk after having been raised by monkeys.
“She seemed disabled. She could not speak coherently. At the time, we thought her legs were paralyzed, as she was moving with the support of her hands.”
The girl has since been transferred to another hospital for more intensive treatment. Although authorities interviewed the local villages to try to find the girl’s family, no one recognized her. Therefore, they believe she was abandoned from people who live far away from the nature preserve, but traveled there to be able to abandon the child with some anonymity.
Experts on the case do not believe the girl was living among the monkeys for very long, because she would have died from lack of food or had been eaten by predators. She was probably recently abandoned. One wildlife ranger said that he had never seen any sign of the girl on his rounds in the park.
“If she has been living in the forest for 8 to 9 years, she could not have survived. There are over one hundred leopards in the sanctuary, and she could not have escaped them.”
Although the girl may have befriended the monkeys and lived among them since her abandonment, this was probably not for any significant length of time like Mowgli in The Jungle Book. Instead, authorities paint a bleaker picture of a disabled girl abandoned because her parents did not want to spend the funds or make the effort needed to take care of her.
Ranjana Kumari, an advocate for young girls, explained that the society prizes boys more and this could have been a factor in her abandonment.
“Some families value girls less than boys. They would rather get rid of the girl than spend money on her. It is a lot more responsibility because of the social environment we live in.”
[Featured Image by Clive Mason/Getty Images]