SYDNEY, Australia – Lost in the rocky, remote Australian Outback, a former pest exterminator faced dehydration and death. Desperate for food, he turned to what he knew best — bugs, he said Wednesday.
Theo Rosmulder, 52, managed to survive for four days by feasting on termites and other insects before local Aborigines happened upon him Tuesday and brought him back to civilization.
A weary-looking Rosmulder told reporters that he found some relief from hunger at a giant termite mound. "I just hit the top of the termite nest off and got stuck into them," Rosmulder said.
"Termites don't taste too bad," he said at a news conference in the southwestern Australian mining town of Laverton.
Rosmulder was suffering from dehydration but otherwise in "surprisingly good condition," Western Australia state police Sgt. Graham Clifford said. He said the insects and termites provided Rosmulder a bit of moisture and some protein.
"He kept eating what he used to kill," Clifford said.
Rosmulder had been searching for gold with his wife and a group of other prospectors about 80 miles north of Laverton, police said.
On Friday, he became lost after heading out alone, armed only with a pocketknife, flashlight and a metal detector, Clifford said. His prospecting group called police Friday night after he failed to return to camp.
Police launched a large search operation at first light Saturday morning, with dozens of searchers combing 77 square miles of the rocky desert terrain by land and air.
"The chap did say he saw planes on a number of occasions and waved items of clothing, but they didn't attract the attention," Clifford said.
Rosmulder said he managed to get some rest during his ordeal. "Found a hollow in the rocks where the kangaroos slept and crawled into it, got a few bushes over the top of me and stayed the night," Rosmulder said.
On Tuesday morning, a couple members of a local Aboriginal community who were out shooting spotted Rosmulder about 6 miles from his camp. He was still holding onto his metal detector.
"It was just magic," he said of his rescue. "I just collapsed."
Rosmulder was treated and released from Laverton Hospital the same day, authorities said. Rosmulder told officials that he planned to continue his gold hunting vacation.
"Why not?" Clifford said with a chuckle.