BBC explorer in search of ‘headhunter tribe’ goes missing in remote Papua New Guinea jungle
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BBC explorer in search of ‘headhunter tribe’ goes missing in remote Papua New Guinea jungle

PROLIFIC British explorer Benedict Allen has reportedly gone missing in the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea while searching for a lost tribe of headhunters.

Allen, who was due to deliver a talk in Hong Kong on Wednesday, did not show up at the event and has not been heard from since he was dropped off by helicopter at a remote abandoned mission station in the country three weeks ago, the South China Morning Post reported.

The 57-year-old veteran adventurer, who has produced numerous documentaries for the BBC, was scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong on Wednesday to give a talk entitled “The Great Explorer: Life on the Edge’’ to the city’s chapter of the Royal Geographical Society before returning to the United Kingdom.

Keeping mum on Allen’s disappearance, officials from the society did not speak to the media on the matter. However, a notice advertising on the Hong Kong event said it has been “rescheduled to next year”.

The SCMP report said the father-of-three, who has also authored books about his travels, was trying to locate the Yaifo, one of the last tribes in the world who live in complete isolation from other communities.

SEE ALSO: Witch hunts in Papua New Guinea linked to jealousy

At the time of the expedition, Allen did not travel with a satellite phone or GPS device.

In a recent blog post, the explorer wrote: “The Yaifo, a band of people I made first outside contact with some 30 years ago, are still living in the remote Central Range of PNG. Furthermore, no outsider has made the journey to visit them since the rather perilous journey I made as a young man three decades ago.

“This would make them the remotest people in Papua New Guinea, and one of the last people on the entire planet who are out-of-contact with our interconnected world.

“In October I’m hiring a helicopter to drop me off at the abandoned mission station, Bisorio … If – and only if – it seems ethical, I’ll try to assemble a small party, as I did all those years ago, and head off upslope into the mists to visit the Yaifo in their remote abode. The aim is to create a brief record of their lives …”

In his previous trip to meet the tribe, Allen said he was greeted by “a terrifying show of strength, an energetic dance featuring their bows and arrows”. He also anticipated the same treatment on this trip, and whether he could even reach their village under the “treacherous terrain”.

SEE ALSO: Enjoying the hospitality of headhunters in Borneo

According to The Guardian, his 35-year-old wife Lenka Allen, said: “The little one, Beatrice, is always saying ‘daddy’ and she’s trying to telephone him on my mobile, looking at his photo on the screen. They all sense the tension in the flat and they are worried, deep down.

“He has been so careful since I married him. He hasn’t done anything this scary and slightly reckless – it’s the first time that he has gone on his own.

“I am trying to stay positive and hope it’s going to end up well and he will come out of the jungle soon. Maybe he miscalculated the distance he’s going to have to cross on the way back, or there could be obstacles.”

Katie Pestille, Allen’s older sister, commended his wife for her courage but said the two were cross with him.

“It is typical of him to go off without GPS – if he had that, people would know where to find him. Unfortunately that is not Benedict’s style, he likes to do things the hard way,” she said.