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Famous Real Life Survival Stories

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Alone sees contestants dropped into the middle of nowhere, and whoever can survive the longest, wins a jackpot of $500,000. A battle of survival of the fittest (and in many cases most creative!), our contestants are forced to become true survivalists.

And there have been many who have been forced into even more extreme survival situations before them, just check out this list of famous real-life stories of survival:

Aaron Ralston

If you’ve seen the movie 127 Hours, you know how Aaron’s story goes, but for those who haven’t – it’s a bit of a shocker.

In 2003 Aaron was hiking alone in Blue John Canyon, Utah, USA. While descending a canyon, a boulder fell and trapped his right arm. For five days he survived off of his packed water and snacks, hoping someone would find him. Trouble is, not only was the spot remote, but he also hadn’t told anyone where he was going.

Realising that he may never be found (and running out of supplies) he was forced to amputate his arm by cutting through the bone using his multi-tool that included a knife. Upon freeing himself, he began the seven-mile walk back to his truck. During his journey, a family discovered him and alerted authorities.

He lost 40 lbs during his ordeal, and it is nothing short of a miracle that he didn’t bleed to death. He now continues to mountaineer and is a motivational speaker.

Douglas Mawson

Douglas Mawson – cannibal or hero? He was an Australian explorer, who infamously explored Antarctica with a team of fellow explorers in 1912.

In December 1912, Mawson and two other expedition members left their base and went off on a 300-mile exploration of Antarctica. One of the members fell into a crevasse and was killed, along with many of their supplies and best dogs.

Forced to battle on, Mawson and the remaining member Xavier Mertz turned back towards their base camp, with only their dying dogs to eat and dwindling water supplies. Once the last dog was eaten, they battled on for two weeks with no food other than some small rations in their supplies. Before long, both of them suffered from skin peeling off and according to Marson, Mertz’ genitals froze off. A few days later Mertz died, and it is rumoured that Mawson was forced to boil and eat Mertz’s corpse in order to survive.

In February 1913, Mawson returned back to his base, and while deemed a survivor hero – there are questions as to just what extremes he had to take to stay alive.

Mauro Prosperi

Mauro Prosperi is an Italian police officer who gained worldwide famed after becoming lost in the Sahara Dessert in 1994. A keen athlete and endurance runner, Muaro took part in the 1994 Marathon of the Sands in Morocco.

A 6-day-long endurance race, a sandstorm caused Mauro to become disorientated and lose his way. 24 hours after going off track, he found himself in a Muslim Shrine in Algeria. In order to survive, he killed and ate bats and was forced to drink his own urine.

Assuming he would never be found, he slit his wrists with a pen knife from his supplies. However, it was such dry heat that the wounds clotted and he was forced to go back into the desert and attempt to find help.

For nine days he walked through the desert and ate insects and reptiles. Finally, he found a small village, where he was given water, food and shelter. From there he was flown to a hospital.

He lost 18 kg in body weight while lost, but has remained an enthusiastic runner and even returned and completed the race in 2013 – coming in at 131 place.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga

Jose Salvador Alvargenga is a Salvadoran fisherman who spent 13 months lost at sea. He is the first person recorded in history to have survived in a small boat lost at sea for more than a year.

On 17 November 2012, Alvarenga set off on a professional fishing trip with his co-worker Ezequiel. A few hours into their voyage, a storm blew them off course, and lasted five days. Alvarenga called his boss on the ship’s radio for help, but then this and much of the rest of the boat’s electronics began to fail.

A search party was sent, but after two days of looking and to no avail, their boss gave up and assumed they had drowned at sea.

Alone and without food or supplies, the two fishermen survived off of eating raw fish, turtles and rainwater. Weeks turned to months, and Ezequiel became severely unwell from eating months of raw food and died.

Alvarenga then endured another nine months alone at sea, until he eventually spotted a small island. Abandoning his boat and swimming to shore, he almost immediately met a local couple who alerted authorities. He had reached the Marshall Islands.

His journey lasted 438 days and his voyage is estimated to have covered between 5,500 to 6,700 miles.

Ricky Megee

On January 23, 2006, Ricky Megee was driving through the Australian Outback on his way to a new job when he picked up a group of hitchhikers. The next thing he remembers is waking up in the Outback wilderness with plastic wrapped around him and dingoes scratching at his back.

Unable to locate his car and clueless at to where he was exactly, Megee was forced to survive for 71 days out in the perilous Australian Outback.

He made a “humpy” using branches and leaves, and mainly lived off eating frogs, leeches, snakes and drinking his own urine. At night, he put rocks as a barricade up around his shelter, to prevent dingoes from trying to eat him as he slept.

Eventually workers on a remote cattle ranch stumbled upon Megee, who was now skeletal and had lost over 100 lbs (45 kg). He was taken to a local hospital and treated for severe dehydration and malnutrition.

What exactly had happened to him remains a mystery, but it is generally suspected that he was drugged by the hitchhikers – especially considering his vehicle was never found.