THE “real-life Tarzan” who was raised in the jungle before spending his final eight years amongst civilisation, has died.
Ho Van Lang, 52, passed away on September 6 after battling liver cancer.
He lived with his father, Ho Van Thanh, in a tiny village in Vietnam after they “escaped” their isolated existence living deep in the forest, known as the Tra Bong District.
In a tale that sounds straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster, the wild pair built tree houses, dressed in loincloths fashioned out of tree bark and hunted rats for their dinner.
They had no contact with any other human beings or the modern world for four decades.
Thanh, an army veteran, decided to flee his small village in 1972 with his then two-year-old son Lang after a US bomb killed his wife and two other children.
Lang and Thanh’s diet consisted of fruit, vegetables, honey and a variety of meats including monkeys, rats, snakes, lizards, frogs, bats, birds and fish.
Thanh was said to have a “profound phobia of returning as he did not believe that the Vietnam War was over” before being discovered by locals in 2013.
But pals fear it could have been the adjustment to “modern life” that proved too much for Lang.
Explorer Alvaro Cerezo said: “I’m so sad to see him go, but for me, his passing is also a liberation because I know he was suffering in the last months.
“He was a beautiful human being, to forget him will be impossible, I will miss him every day.
“But I didn’t like seeing him living in civilisation. I was always concerned that he and his body wouldn’t be able to handle such a drastic change.
“He had spent all his life living in the jungle and then came to live in the ‘civilised world’ where he started eating processed foods and sometimes even drinking alcohol.”
Cerezo once joined Lang in the jungle for a week and lived there together.
He captured poignant and extraordinary moments of Lang’s unbelievable life and even wrote a book on his friend’s experiences.
“He was the most fascinating person I ever met and extremely sweet at the same time. When we were surviving together in the jungle, everything that would take me hours to achieve, he could do it in seconds.
“He was a little kid with the skills of a superhuman.”
Cerezo earlier explained Lang was left baffled by the contemporary lifestyle and modern inventions.
“At night, he was completely amazed by the light that came from the light bulbs.
“Lang told us that being able to enjoy light during the night was something most extraordinary,” said Cerezo.
“And just after that he saw a television for the first time ever, something his father had also told him about when young.
“He knew, therefore, that the people who appeared on it weren’t ‘inside’ the box.”
He found the real-life Tarzan “very endearing” but said he struggled to get to grips with leaving his jungle life behind.