Wednesday, 15 November 2017
British explorer searching for remote tribe in Papua New Guinea goes missing
Benedict Allen was dropped by helicopter into the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea three weeks ago and has not been heard of since.
His wife Lenka is frantic with worry because he is supposed to have started his journey home by Sunday.
The 57-year-old father of three, who has explored the Gobi desert and the Amazon in a lifetime of adventuring – once eating his own dog to survive, has no phone or GPS device.
He was on a mission to reach the Yaifo – a tribe thought to be one of the last on Earth to have no contact with outsiders.
They live in the crocodile-infested jungles of East Sepik, a province lacking proper roads or navigable rivers.
Mr Allen, who has made six TV series for the BBC, was expected back in the capital Port Moresby on Sunday for a flight to Hong Kong to give a speech at its branch of the Royal Geographical Society.
‘His wife Lenka has not heard from him,’ said his agent Joanna Sarsby.
‘She is very worried. He would never miss something like the Hong Kong talk unless something had happened.
‘He is a highly experienced explorer, very clever and resourceful and adept at surviving in the most hostile places on Earth, and he would never give up. He may not be a young man any more but he is very fit.
‘He was trying to reach the Yaifo people, a very remote and reclusive tribe – possibly headhunters, quite a scary bunch. Goodness knows what has happened.
‘I just imagine he might have been taken ill or is lying injured somewhere, perhaps with a broken leg, and maybe being helped by locals. He never takes a phone with him – he believes in living like the locals. For him not to come back is really odd.’
Mr Allen and his Czech-born wife married in 2007 and have a house in Bristol with their children Natalya, ten, Freddie, seven, and Beatrice, two.
Mr Allen survived by eating his own dog during a 1982 trek across the Brazilian rainforest. He and the stray – whose paw he had healed – got lost in the jungle after fleeing goldminers who attacked him.
He says they got steadily weaker until ‘I was starving to death – the only thing left was to eat the dog’.
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