Jhonatan Acosta went missing in January after hunting with friends in the Amazon rainforest — and emerged 31 days later with an incredible tale of survival.
On Feb. 25, 2023, 30-year-old Jhonatan Acosta emerged from the Amazon rainforest in Bolivia a month after going missing while hunting. He told rescuers that he survived by eating insects and worms, as well as drinking his own urine and rainwater from a boot. If his story is confirmed, Acosta would be one of the longest lone survivors in the Amazon in history.
Acosta’s story began with a hunting trip. On Jan. 25, he set out into the Amazon with four friends to hunt game. At some point, he became separated from the group and got lost. His friends eventually returned home without him, and his family quickly reported him missing.
According to CBS News, Acosta hiked 25 miles in search of civilization. However, he soon became disoriented and realized that he was walking in circles.
Acosta held onto hope that search parties were looking for him, but he started becoming less optimistic after he became injured while trying to find an escape from the forest. Acosta’s brother, Horacio, told Página Siete, “My brother told us that when he dislocated his ankle on the fourth day, he started fearing for his life.”
Thankfully, it rained for much of the time that Acosta was lost in the Amazon. Using his rubber boot, he was able to collect rainwater and carry it with him. On the days that it did not rain, he drank his own urine to quench his thirst.
“I asked God for rain,” Acosta said, according to The Guardian. “If it hadn’t rained, I would not have survived.”
For food, Acosta ate worms and other insects he could find, as well as wild fruits similar to papayas. Luckily, he had some survival skills that were instrumental in keeping him alive.
“It helped a lot to know about survival techniques: I had to consume insects, drink my urine, eat worms,” he told Unitel TV.
While Acosta was battling the needs of his own body, he also fought against wild animals. According to Amazon Conservation, the Amazon rainforest is home to over 400 species of mammals, 300 species of reptiles, and 400 species of amphibians. It is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, and Acosta was exposed and vulnerable right in the middle of it.
Every morning Acosta would wake up to new bites on his body from the critters that feasted on him at night. As stated by his sister, Miladde Acosta, in an interview with Unitel TV, Acosta even had to “fight with a pig, which is a wild and dangerous animal” and evade a jaguar that was stalking him.
“He only had one cartridge in his shotgun and couldn’t walk, and he thought no one would be looking for him anymore,” Horacio Acosta told Página Siete. However, 31 days after he was lost in the Amazon, Acosta’s prayers for rescue were finally answered.
He spotted a search party made up of his family, friends, and local residents around 1,000 feet away. Acosta began screaming and limping towards them — and his harrowing ordeal in the rainforest finally came to an end.
Emergency services transported Acosta to a hospital and found that he had lost 37 pounds, had a dislocated ankle, and was dehydrated. Given that Acosta was still able to walk, doctors were hopeful that his ankle would heal normally.
When asked how he felt, Acosta replied, “I am very happy and grateful.”
“It’s incredible, I can’t believe people kept up the search for so long,” he said in response to the overwhelming support. He also noted that he has decided to give up hunting for good.
After reading about Jhonatan Acosta’s fight for survival in the Amazon rainforest, learn about 11 survival stories from around the world that defy the odds. Then, learn more about the Amazon rainforest and the alarming deforestation occurring there.