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British explorer missing in remote Papua New Guinea jungle searching for lost tribe of headhunters

Mirror logo Mirror 3 days ago Chris kitching

a group of people standing in front of a tree: Credits: BBC © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: BBC A British explorer has gone missing after he ventured into a remote jungle looking for a lost tribe of headhunters for a BBC documentary, it was reported.

Benedict Allen, 57, hasn't been heard from since he was dropped off by a helicopter three weeks ago.

He had no phone or GPS device when he entered the crocodile-infested jungle in Papua New Guinea three weeks ago.

Benedict Allen looking at the camera: Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Getty

The experienced adventurer was supposed to have started his long journey home by Sunday, but there has been no sign of him.

His family are now worried that something bad happened to him while he was searching for the "scary" and reclusive Pacific tribe.

Mr Allen, a father-of-three, was trying to find the Yaifo people - thought to have no contact with outsiders - when he vanished, the Daily Mail reported.

person talking on a cell phone: Credits: BBC © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: BBC

He first met the tribe 30 years ago and was hoping to meet them again in East Sepik province to film them for a BBC documentary.

Mr Allen's agent Joanna Sarsby said his wife Lenka has not heard from him and became very worried when he missed his flight to Hong Kong, where he was due to speak to the Royal Geographical Society.

The agent said: "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.

a group of people on a boat in the water: Credits: Tigress Productions/David Osborne © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Tigress Productions/David Osborne

"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."

Tribes in various parts of the world have been feared for headhunting, a tradition where the heads of dead enemies or intruders are kept and preserved as trophies.

In one of his last tweets, Mr Allen posted a photo of himself carrying a rucksack on October 11, writing: "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...)".

Before leaving for Papua New Guinea, Mr Allen, who has a home in Bristol, had written a blog post about his expedition to meet the Yaifo tribe 30 years after his chance encounter.

Mr Allen - father to Natalya, aged 10, Freddie, seven, and Beatrice, two - wrote: "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.

Benedict Allen wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Credits: BBC © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: BBC

"In October I'm hiring a helicopter to drop me off at the abandoned mission station, Bisorio - a forlorn place that was featured briefly on the BBC programme.

"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 up-slope into the mists to visit the Yaifo in their remote abode.

"The aim is to create a brief record of their lives, if possible tracking down some of those, such as Fifi who'd remember me.

a close up of a man looking at the camera: Credits: Hulton Archive © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Hulton Archive

"Last time, the Yaifo 'greeted' me with a terrifying show of strength, an energetic dance featuring their bows and arrows.

"On THIS occasion who knows if the Yaifo will do the same, or run off, or be wearing jeans and T shirts traded eons ago from the old mission station. But of course I may not even made it there – even aged 26 it was a very hard hike up through rather treacherous terrain."

He added: "Nor do I have an 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; together we managed to achieve the only recorded crossing of the Central Range.

Video: Australian Family Escape Hold Up In Papua New Guinea (Newsweek)

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"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.

"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..."

Mr Allen is a veteran explorer who has made six TV series for the BBC and once ate a stray dog to stay alive after getting lost in the Brazilian rainforest in 1982.

According to his website, he is the only person known to have crossed the Amazon basin at its widest, and is the only person known to have crossed the Gobi Desert with camels alone.

The Foreign Office has said it is assisting a British man's family and contacting local officials after he was reported missing in Papua New Guinea.

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