Karina Chikitova survived 11 nights and days in the Siberian taiga which is infested with wolves and bears
three-year-old girl has survived 11 days and nights on her own in the Siberian taiga which is infested with wild bears and wolves.
Karina Chikitova was saved by her puppy who kept her warm for more than a week before leaving her to return home to summon help.
The girl survived eating wild berries and drinking river water in territory roamed by bears and wolves, according to The Siberian Times.
‘Rescuers searching for her confronted a bear highlighting the extraordinary danger she faced’, it said.
Yet the worst she suffered were mosquito bites and scratches to her feet.
Karina wandered away from her home in a remote village accompanied by her puppy whose name has not been revealed despite its heroism.
The small girl made herself beds in the long grasses, which are common in the summer in the south-west of the Sakha Republic, Russia’s largest region.
However, the tall grasses made it impossible for search helicopters and drones to spot Karina who wore only a red undershirt and purple stockings when she was found.
Sakha is also Siberia’s coldest region in winter but at this time of year the nighttime temperatures were slightly above zero, around 6C.
Karina’s mother, who has not yet been named, believed her daughter had accompanied her father Rodion when he left on a trip on July 27 to his distant native village.
In fact, the father did not realise his daughter had followed him with her puppy and she became lost in the taiga.
Experts say her chances of survival for such a long period were minimal.
Four days after Karina had gone her mother finally got hold of her husband and realised that her daughter was lost and a massive search was launched.
Initially, Karina’s family and the rescue teams were distraught when the dog – which has not been named despite its heroic role – returned to the girl’s village of Olom in Olyokminsky district, some nine days after Karina had been missing.
In fact the animal’s instinct to seek help was vital to saving Karina.
Lucky: Rescuers hold little Karina Chikitova who survived eating wild berries and drinking river water
‘Two days before we found Karina her puppy came back home,’ said Afanasiy Nikolayev, spokesman for the Sakha Republic Rescue Service.
‘That was the moment when our hearts sank, because we thought at least with her dog Karina had chances to survive – night in Yakutia are cold and some areas have already gone into minus temperatures.
‘If she was to hug her puppy, we thought, this would have given her a chance to stay warm during nights and survive
Found: The small girl is found sitting in the long grasses which are common in the south-west of the Sakha Republic
The little girl’s face peers out from the long grasses in the Siberian taiga where she was found
Survivor: Experts say her chances of survival for such a long period were minimal
‘So when her dog came back we thought that’s it – even if she was alive – and chances were slim – now she would have definitely have lost all hopes. Our hearts truly and deeply sank.’
However, the dog guided the rescuers to the stranded girl.
‘It was Karina’s puppy that helped the adults find the girl,’ said a report by NTV news.
‘When it came back home two days ago her family had lost hope, thinking this definitely meant Karina had no chance.
A psychologist with the rescue team said the girl’s mind had not been hurt and that she was acting normally
‘But then it was the puppy that showed rescuers the way to Karina, and in the morning she was found.’
The television report said Karina ‘was conscious and looked surprisingly well.
‘She was given food and drinks, and then with her mother she was first sent to the district hospital and then to Yakutsk, the regional capital.
‘She doesn’t want to speak about the time she spent in taiga, or not yet. The only thing she said that she was eating berries and drank water from rivers.’
Rescuers spent days looking for the child who was lost in the Siberian taiga which is infested with wild bears
The taiga forests of eastern Siberia cover more than a quarter of Russia’s territory and is infested with wolves
The taiga is home to Russia’s largest populations of brown bear, moose, wolf, red fox and reindeer
Nikolayev said the rescuers guided by the dog spotted traces of her bare feet and this helped them find her.
‘We began searches, thinking that if she had lost her shoes she would try and stay away from the deep forest, because there are a lot of sharp sticks there,’ he said.
Suddenly with the dog’s help ‘we saw Karina siting in the grass’, he said.
‘We rushed to her, got her a little tea and grabbed her to run back to the car and doctors.’
Nikolayev said the rescuers guided by the dog spotted traces of her bare feet
It took four days to realise that Karina was missing and a massive search was launched
Nikolayev said: ‘I carried Karina myself to the car, and she was light as a bird.
‘She weighed hardly ten kilograms – but amazingly she was fully conscious.’
Ekaterina Andreeva, a psychologist with the rescue team, said: ‘We can say that the girl’s mind was not hurt.
She is talking, she reacts normally to everything around her.
‘She recalls what happened to her.’
Amazingly she suffered no major physical injury though she has scratches on her feet.
She had been badly bitten by mosquitoes and other insects.
The taiga is home to Russia’s largest populations of brown bear, moose, wolf, red fox and reindeer.
It is one of the most extensive natural forests left in the world.