BEAR DOWN UN­DER

Bear Grylls has ven­tured into the tough­est places on Earth but he nearly met his match when he went up against the Aus­tralian wild, as Guy Davis found out.

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civil­i­sa­tion, Grylls dis­cov­ered that “ you’re def­i­nitely not the king in waters like this”.

“ That ti­tle be­longs to the salty,” he said, re­fer­ring to the salt­wa­ter croc­o­dile. “ But it’s all about try­ing to use that fear. It’s not hu­man if you don’t feel a lit­tle bit scared float­ing down a river that’s got a lot of crocs in it when you’re just on a lit­tle raft.”

In fact, when fish­ing from his raft, Grylls had his catch pinched by a hun­gry croc­o­dile. “ That’s one battle I don’t mind let­ting him win,” he said.

“ Aus­tralia is a wild ride,” he added. “ It was crazy, re­ally crazy.”

Ah, but crazy is Grylls’ nat­u­ral habi­tat, it would seem. His trav­els have taken him to some far-flung and fright­en­ing lo­ca­tions, and his ex­ploits have in­cluded chow­ing down on the car­cass of a ze­bra killed by lions, plung­ing his hands into the warm in­testines of a dead yak to keep his fin­gers from freez­ing and giv­ing him­self an en­ema in front of the cam­era.

You can’t say the man isn’t com­mit­ted to his craft.

And he’s paid the price too. Be­fore he found fame on TV, he’d al­ready bro­ken his back in a parachut­ing ac­ci­dent, re­port­edly com­ing close to be­ing paral­ysed for life. ( It was two years later that he achieved his child­hood dream of reach­ing the top of Mount Ever­est.)

And while film­ing Man vs Wild, he’s had his fair share of in­juries.

While film­ing the episode shot in Viet­nam, for ex­am­ple, he sliced one of his fin­gers down to the bone on a ra­zor-sharp shard of bam­boo.

A quick, ragged stitch-up saved it from be­ing lost com­pletely but he had to re­turn to Eng­land for fur­ther med­i­cal at­ten­tion when he lost feel­ing in the fin­ger­tip.

“ I also sliced off the tip of an­other fin­ger, which bled like no­body’s busi­ness, but the raw flesh is cov­er­ing up now slowly,” he said.

“ Dank, damp jun­gle con­di­tions are bad for such in­juries, trust me. It re­in­forced the huge re­spect I have for any sol­dier who had to op­er­ate in those very in­tense con­di­tions, es­pe­cially for those who turned up with no jun­gle ex­pe­ri­ence – it must have been hell on earth.”

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