‘Real-life Tarzan’ who lived in the Vietnamese jungle for 40 years dies of cancer aged 52

The ‘real-life Tarzan’ who lived in the Vietnamese jungle for 40 years has died of liver cancer aged 52 – eight years after he returned to the ‘civilised world’.   

Ho Van Lang succumbed to the terminal illness last Monday after surviving 41 years in the jungle with his father.  

The pair reportedly thought the Vietnam War was still raging on until they were brought back to civilisation in 2013 when Lang’s father Ho Van Thanh became sick.

Thanh, then a soldier, fled with his infant son to the jungle during the war after he lost his wife and two other children in bombing. 

The father-son duo lived for decades in the forest of what is now known as the Tra Bong District before they were found by locals looking for firewood.  

The 'real-life Tarzan' Ho Van Lang, who lived in the Vietnamese jungle for 40 years has died of liver cancer aged 52 - eight years after he returned to the 'civilised world'

The 'real-life Tarzan' Ho Van Lang, who lived in the Vietnamese jungle for 40 years has died of liver cancer aged 52 - eight years after he returned to the 'civilised world'

The ‘real-life Tarzan’ Ho Van Lang, who lived in the Vietnamese jungle for 40 years has died of liver cancer aged 52 – eight years after he returned to the ‘civilised world’

Ho Van Lang succumbed to the terminal illness last Monday after surviving 41 years in the jungle with his father. The pair reportedly thought the Vietnam War was still raging on until they were brought back to civilisation in 2013 when Lang's father Ho Van Thanh became sick

Ho Van Lang succumbed to the terminal illness last Monday after surviving 41 years in the jungle with his father. The pair reportedly thought the Vietnam War was still raging on until they were brought back to civilisation in 2013 when Lang's father Ho Van Thanh became sick

Ho Van Lang succumbed to the terminal illness last Monday after surviving 41 years in the jungle with his father. The pair reportedly thought the Vietnam War was still raging on until they were brought back to civilisation in 2013 when Lang’s father Ho Van Thanh became sick

Lang’s older brother Ho Van Tri encouraged the pair to return to civilisation, with the help of the authorities, when Thanh’s health began to deteriorate in 2013. 

Lang had lived a remarkable life and made headlines across the globe – but his friend Alvaro Cerezo, an explorer who returned to the jungle with Lang to live there for a week together, believes discovering ‘modern life’ probably had fatal consequences for the real life Tarzan.

Cerezo said: ‘I’m so sad to see him go, but for me his passing is also a liberation because I know he was suffering in the last months.

‘He was a beautiful human being, to forget him will be impossible, I will miss him everyday.

‘But I didn’t like seeing him living in civilisation. I was always concerned that he and his body wouldn’t be able to handle such a drastic change.

‘He had spent all his life living in the jungle and then came to live in the “civilised world” where he started eating processed foods and sometimes even drinking alcohol.’

Lang lived with his father for decades in the forest of what is now known as the Tra Bong District before they were found by Lang's older brother Ho Van Tri

Lang lived with his father for decades in the forest of what is now known as the Tra Bong District before they were found by Lang's older brother Ho Van Tri

Lang lived with his father for decades in the forest of what is now known as the Tra Bong District before they were found by Lang’s older brother Ho Van Tri

Lang and his father returned to civilisation in 2013 when Thanh's health began to deteriorate in 2013

Lang and his father returned to civilisation in 2013 when Thanh's health began to deteriorate in 2013

Lang and his father returned to civilisation in 2013 when Thanh’s health began to deteriorate in 2013

Cerezo said eating processed foods and sometimes even drinking alcohol probably had drastic effects on his health

Cerezo said eating processed foods and sometimes even drinking alcohol probably had drastic effects on his health

Cerezo said eating processed foods and sometimes even drinking alcohol probably had drastic effects on his health 

Cerezo met Lang two years later through his work with Docastaway – an organisation which helps people who want to escape from civilisation and spend a few days or weeks completely alone on a desert island.

During their friendship, Cerezo recorded on camera some of Lang’s most vulnerable, emotional and beautiful moments, including his time in the jungle, adapting to civilised life and returning to the wild.

Cerezo also wrote a book about Lang’s life, and has now compiled a montage of footage he took when the pair lived together deep in the jungle.

He said: ‘Two years after he was brought back to civilisation, I went to look for Ho Van Lang at his village to see if he would teach me some new survival techniques that I could apply on the desert islands.

‘I always say that the best survival “teachers” are to be found among the tribes.’

Lang had lived a remarkable life and made headlines across the globe - but his friend Alvaro Cerezo, an explorer who returned to the jungle with Lang to live there for a week together, believes discovering 'modern life' probably had fatal consequences for the real life Tarzan

Lang had lived a remarkable life and made headlines across the globe - but his friend Alvaro Cerezo, an explorer who returned to the jungle with Lang to live there for a week together, believes discovering 'modern life' probably had fatal consequences for the real life Tarzan

Lang had lived a remarkable life and made headlines across the globe – but his friend Alvaro Cerezo, an explorer who returned to the jungle with Lang to live there for a week together, believes discovering ‘modern life’ probably had fatal consequences for the real life Tarzan

Cerezo met Lang two years later through his work with Docastaway - an organisation which helps people who want to escape from civilisation and spend a few days or weeks completely alone on a desert island

Cerezo met Lang two years later through his work with Docastaway - an organisation which helps people who want to escape from civilisation and spend a few days or weeks completely alone on a desert island

Cerezo met Lang two years later through his work with Docastaway – an organisation which helps people who want to escape from civilisation and spend a few days or weeks completely alone on a desert island

Cerezo also wrote a book about Lang's life, and has now compiled a montage of footage he took when the pair lived together deep in the jungle

Cerezo also wrote a book about Lang's life, and has now compiled a montage of footage he took when the pair lived together deep in the jungle

Cerezo also wrote a book about Lang’s life, and has now compiled a montage of footage he took when the pair lived together deep in the jungle

Cerezo added: ‘But after spending less than a day with him I realised he was one of the most endearing people I have ever met.

‘The connection between us was immediate because Lang never imagined someone would be interested in his survival skills, and he was so happy to show me them all.

‘He got so excited that he decided to take me deep into the jungle and show me the place he had lived all his life.

‘We spent one week living at his jungle-home in the same way he had during the past four decades.

‘He was the most fascinating person I ever met and extremely sweet at the same time. When we were surviving together in the jungle, everything that would take me hours to achieve, he could do it in seconds.

‘He was a little kid with the skills of a super human.’

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