Bri­tish ex­plorer on trail of head­hunters goes miss­ing

Fa­ther-of-three seek­ing re­mote tribe in Pa­pua New Guinea for BBC fails to re­turn at ex­pected time

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Bar­ney Hen­der­son

A BRI­TISH ex­plorer has gone miss­ing in a re­mote jun­gle in Pa­pua New Guinea while search­ing for a lost tribe of head­hunters, his agent has said.

Bene­dict Allen, 57, was dropped by he­li­copter in the jun­gle in the north- west of the coun­try known as the Cen­tral Range three weeks ago to find the tribe for a BBC doc­u­men­tary and has not been heard from since.

He had been due back in Port Moresby, the cap­i­tal, on Sun­day to take a flight to Hong Kong to de­liver a talk to the Royal Ge­o­graph­i­cal So­ci­ety yes­ter­day. He had writ­ten on Twit­ter and his web­site be­fore his de­par­ture that he may not be heard from for some time, but his fam­ily now fear for his safety.

Joanna Sarsby, his agent, told a news­pa­per: “His wife Lenka has not heard from him. She is very wor­ried. He would never miss some­thing like the Hong Kong talk un­less some­thing had hap­pened.” Mr Allen, a fa­ther of three, had been at­tempt­ing to track down the Yaifo, who are among the few re­main­ing tribes on Earth not to have con­tact with the out­side world.

Ms Sarsby said that the Yaifo were “quite a scary bunch” and that it was “re­ally odd” Mr Allen had not re­turned.

A For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Of­fice spokesman said: “Our staff are as­sist­ing the fam­ily of a Bri­tish man who has been re­ported miss­ing in Pa­pua New Guinea, and are con­tact­ing the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.”

Mr Allen is a very ex­pe­ri­enced ex­plorer, known for im­mers­ing him­self among in­dige­nous peo­ples. His dar­ing ex­pe­di­tions in­clude cross­ing the Gobi desert and Ama­zon basin.

He said on his web­site he had made the “first out­side con­tact” with the Yaifo tribe 30 years ago and was re­turn­ing “to cre­ate a brief record of their lives, if pos­si­ble track­ing down some of those... who’d re­mem­ber me”.

He went on to say he had “no ob­vi­ous means of re­turn­ing to the Out­side World, which is some­what wor­ry­ing, es­pe­cially at my ad­vanced age. Ei­ther I must pad­dle down river for a week or so – or en­list the help of the Yaifo, as I did last time. So, if this web­site or my Twit­ter ac­count falls more than usu­ally silent – I’m due back mid Nov – it’s be­cause I am still out there some­where”.

He said that “just like the good old days” he would not be tak­ing a satel­lite phone, GPS or a trav­el­ling com­pan­ion.

In a post on Twit­ter on Oct 11, Allen wrote: “March­ing off to Heathrow. I may be some time (don’t try to res­cue me, please – where I’m go­ing in PNG you won’t ever find me, you know...)”

Bene­dict Allen tweeted: “Don’t try to res­cue me... you won’t find me” be­fore he be­gan his search for an iso­lated tribe

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