Colombia Credits Military Tech, Indigenous Potions With Rescue

President bestows 86 medals on Amazon searchers who found children
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 26, 2023 7:20 PM CDT
Colombia Credits Military Tech, Indigenous Potions With Rescue
Drugia, mother of the search dog Wilson, receives applause Monday at the Palace of Narino in Bogota, Colombia.   (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Colombia's president handed out 86 medals Monday to soldiers, Indigenous volunteers, and government officials who helped in the rescue of four children who spent 40 days on their own in the jungle after a plane crash. President Gustvao Petro described the search that captivated world attention as an example of how Western technologies and traditional knowledge of Indigenous people can work together in the "preservation of life," the AP reports. The children, Indigenous siblings, were on a small plane with their mother and two other adults when it crashed in the Amazon jungle on May 1. The three adults died.

Some 70 Indigenous people worked with more than 150 soldiers to look for the children in difficult terrain, using helicopters and GPS devices but also drawing inspiration from traditional knowledge of the jungle. The children, ages 1 to 13, were found June 9 by four volunteers from the Muruy people. The siblings are still recovering at a military hospital in Bogota. "The military with its satellites, and the Indigenous people with their potions—including ayahuasca—and invoking the spirits of the jungle, together, found life," Petro said during the ceremony in front of the presidential palace, per the AP.

After soldiers in camouflage and Indigenous people wearing feathered headdresses received their medals, a Belgian shepherd named Drugia was saluted by the president. Military officials said the dog was the mother of Wilson, the sniffer dog who became a national hero after helping find the children. Wilson hasn't been seen since May 18, when he raced away from the search party following a scent. The military has said searchers followed Wilson's pawprints, which led them into the general area where the children were eventually found three weeks later by Indigenous volunteers, but leaders said there's little chance of finding him. "We are going to remember Wilson forever, as we do every soldier and policeman who has offered their lives to protect Colombia," Gen. Pedro Sanchez said.

(More Colombia stories.)

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