Desperate for food, he turned to what he knew best — bugs.
Theo Rosmulder, 52, managed to survive for four days by feasting on termites and other insects before local Aborigines happened upon him on Tuesday and brought him back to civilisation.
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,” said Rosmulder.
“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 was otherwise in “surprisingly good condition”, said Western Australia state police Sergeant Graham Clifford. He said the insects and termites provided Rosmulder with a bit of moisture and protein.
“He kept eating what he used to kill,” he said.
Mr Rosmulder had been searching for gold with his wife and a group of other prospectors about 130km north of Laverton, police said.
Last 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 on Friday night after he failed to return to camp.
Police launched a large search operation on Saturday morning, with searchers combing 77 square miles of the rocky desert terrain by land and air.
“The chap did say he saw planes and waved items of clothing, but they didn’t attract the attention,” said Sergeant Clifford.
Rosmulder said he managed to get some rest during his ordeal.
“I found a hollow in the rocks where the kangaroos slept, got a few bushes over the top of me and stayed the night,” he said.