Feral Children: A feral or wild 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, behavior, or, crucially, of human language.
For the uninitiated, our beloved Mowgli is a classic example of a feral child, albeit romanticised. While he was endearing, they are ferocious; he was accepting of humans, they shun human contact and prefer the wild; he was pretty close to becoming fodder for Kaa and Shere Khan but feral children are far from falling prey - they devour raw meat. In fact Mowgli was based on stories about feral children that Rudyard Kipling had heard from the locals during his time in India.
The Indian Wolf Boy
He was rescued by hunters who saw him following a wolf into its den. Although he never learned to speak he developed an addiction to tobacco. He died in 1895.
Dina Sanichar known as the Indian Wolf Boy was discovered by hunters in the jungles of Bulandshahr. The hunters were astonished to see a boy running on all fours follow a wolf to its den. They shot the wolf and brought the wolf-boy to civilisation.
Dina ate food from the ground, tore any sort of clothes he was made to wear and could not speak. He was eventually weaned off raw meat and fed cooked meat instead.
He lurked in dark corners and had a thirst for blood. His communication was limited to sign language and he lived out his days at Mother Teresa's Missionaries Of Charity before he died in 1985.
Shamdeo was four years old when he was found playing with wolf cubs in the jungles of Musafirkhana in 1972. He was dark with calluses on his body, his hair was matted, and he had sharp teeth and talons. The boy hunted chickens and ate mud, and was good friends with wolves and jackals.
The Leopard Boy
He was stolen by a leopardess as a baby and later rescued by a hunter. The Leopard Boy also learned to speak, but lost his sight when he developed cataract.
He was found in 1912 in the North Cachar Hills (presently Dima Hasao) of Assam. The boy was apparently stolen by a leopardess and later rescued by a hunter. He ran fast on all fours and struggled against everyone who approached him.
In a more recent case Ng Chhaidy went missing from Mizoram at the age of 4. She was found in Myanmar 38 years later and brought home to be rehabilitated.
One of the most recent cases of feral children is that of Ng Chhaidy. The girl went missing when she was four years old and found in 2012 at the age of 42. People from her village in Mizoram had heard about a naked woman with long hair and nails in the forest but dismissed it as gossip.
She has been described as very childlike and knows only a few words. Chhaidy does not remember anything from the past but she loves playing with the young and old alike. She is not shy of human interaction and is learning to speak. You can read about her here.
Kamala and Amala
The girls ate raw meat, seemed devoid of emotion, and would howl like wolves at night. While Amala, the younger of the two died early, Kamala eventually became more approachable, could stand straight and even learned a few words.
Joseph Amrito Lal Singh, the rector of a local orphanage in Midnapore claimed that he was handed two girls raised by wolves in the year 1920 by a man who lived near the jungle. Singh claimed that the girls were ferocious and had thick calluses on their palms and knees.
Singh's claims were later dismissed as a fabricated story by a French surgeon, and refuted by researchers, however, what they do not refute is the existence of feral children. You can read about the controversy here.
Photographer Julia Fullerton Batten who discovered the same recreated some stories about feral children from around the world in a series of beautiful photographs. All the images in the article are sourced from the same shoot.