A Cambodian “jungle girl” who disappeared into the hilly forest as a little girl – only to be found and reunited with her family nearly 20 years later – has fled back to the wild.
Rochom P’ngieng, 29, went missing in 1989 while herding water buffalo with her sister. She was discovered in 2007, and family members attempted to integrate her into society.
The attempts, though, were unsuccessful.
She failed to learn the language, preferred to crawl rather than walk, refused to wear clothes and tried to escape from her family several times. She finally got away on Tuesday evening, her father, Sal Lou, a policeman, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“She took off her clothes and ran away from the house without saying a word to any of our family members,” he said. “Even the day before she fled the house, she still helped the family pick vegetables. She must have gone back to the forest and we still cannot find her,” he said.
Lou blames his daughter’s second disappearance on “forest spirits” and enlisted the help of a fortune teller to find her once again, according to the Telegraph.
The mystic has assured him that an offering of one wild ox, one pig, one chicken and four jugs of wine will bring her back, the paper reported.
There are some who doubt “jungle girl” is the same woman who went missing in 1989. Experts say there’s no way an 8-year-old girl could survive in the jungle on her own for so long.
Her parents said they know the woman is their daughter because of a scar on her right arm, but they have refused to do DNA tests to be sure.
Search parties are trekking through the jungles of Ratanakkiri, but the area is among Cambodia‘s harshest territories and is extremely isolated.
In November 2004, 34 people from a pro-Khmer Rouge tribe emerged from the same jungle after spending 25 years in hiding following the fall of the regime.