Netizen 24 ZAF: British explorer Benedict Allen missing in Papua New Guinea

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British explorer Benedict Allen missing in Papua New Guinea

Benedict Allen, pictured in 2007
Benedict Allen, pictured in 2007, intended to make a documentary about the Yaifo people. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian
Papua New Guinea British explorer Benedict Allen missing in Papua New Guinea

Writer and documentary-maker has failed to return from trip to visit remote tribe he last spent time with 30 years ago

A British explorer is missing in Papua New Guinea, having failed to return by the expected date after setting off to find a remote tribe he last visited three decades ago.

Benedict Allen, 57, who has recorded programmes for the BBC and w ritten books on exploration, was on a journey to locate the Yaifo, one of the few remaining tribes in the world who have no contact with outsiders.

He was expected to have returned to the capital, Port Moresby, by Sunday to catch a flight to Hong Kong, where he was scheduled to speak to the Royal Geographical Society.

The father of three, who intended to make a documentary about the Yaifo, was travelling with no phone or GPS device. On his website, the latest entry on his blog is titled: “I may be some time …”

In it, he writes: “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 â€" and only if â€" it seems ethical, I’ll try to assemble a small party, as I did all those years ago, and head off up-slope into the mists to visit the Yaifo in their remote abode. The aim is to create a brief record of their lives …”

Allen said that on his previous trip he was greeted with “a terrifying show of strength, an energetic dance featuring their bows and arrows”. He speculated whether the same would happen on this trip, or if he would even reach their home, given the “treacherous terrain”.

He wrote that it was slightly worrying that he didn’t have any obvious means of getting back: “Either I must paddle down river for a week or so â€" or enlist the help of the Yaifo, as I did last time; together we managed to achieve the only recorded crossing of the Central Range. So, if this website or my Twitter account falls more than usual ly silent â€" I’m due back mid. Nov â€" it’s because I am still out there somewhere.

“So, don’t bother to call or text! Just like the good old days, I won’t be taking a sat phone, GPS or companion. Or anything else much. Because this is how I do my journeys of exploration. I grow older but no wiser, it seems …”

Allen’s agent, Joanna Sarsby, told the Daily Mail his wife, Lenka was “very worried”.

She added: “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.”

She speculated that Allen may be ill or injured, and being cared for by local people, but “for him not to come back is really odd”.

Topics
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Asia Pacific
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Source: Google News

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