✨ NEW: get the full picture with Benedict Allen on Instagram!
I've just returned from giving a motivational speech to Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, and before that, a speech in France for to Intel (the people make the Pentium processor chip for computers). Both audiences come from very different worlds to me, but I never cease to be amazed by how similar the corporate world is to the jungles I have passed through over the years. Leaving aside jokes about "headhunters, " there is in both faraway tropical jungle and urban jungles a need to adapt to changes circumstance, a need to band together, and a need to be aware that this highly competitive jungle is too big to fight. It must be embraced.
DVDs at last !!!
I hope to have DVDs available for most of my programmes in the near future, though they have to be produced by hand on a non-profit basis because of copyright reasons.
Happy Helmsley visit
Recently I gave a speech to the good people of Helmsley (and neighbours). It was a lovely event for me at least – not just because of the friendly audience, but because the next morning I had the chance to go out for a hike in the North York Moors. Wonderful up there.
Another Chance to See
UKTV will be repeating two of my series:
Last of the Medicine Men Monday 15th to Thursday 18th August at 8pm.
The Bones of Colonel Fawcett Monday 22nd to Thursday 25th August at 8pm.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme kindly invited me to open the Gap Show at Wembley Conference Centre last week the thrust of my speech was that the time after school is incredibly precious, a time to step aside from your family, friends and the social values you've been steeped in, so that you might decide what you want from your life. "CONTROL YOUR DESTINY OR SOMEONE ELSE WILL" are the words written over my desk and a Gap Year, it seems to me is a great chance for anyone young to define his or her destiny.
Wish You Were There!
I've been away again, writing an article for the Mail-on-Sunday on southern Africa for the 150th anniversary of David Livingstone coming across the "Victoria Falls." I felt very much invigorated, especially given the chance to go by foot through the bush between elephants and so on. Also paddling on the Zambezi between rather territorial hippos... Of course, Livingstone – who, amongst other things, was attacked by a lion – had it rather rougher..
Meeting the Relatives
Last week I was in Borneo, visiting orang-utans and their home deep in the forest. It was an exciting and rewarding journey – the orangs are, needless-to-say, under threat from deforestation, and this was a chance to see orphans being prepared for life again in the wild. Once I was patron of a charity walk organised by the Orang-utan Foundation, so the visit to see their work in the Tanjong Puting National Park gave me an extra thrill.
Our relatives, these orangs, transfixed me – characters like Princess, a mother who was released to the wild many years ago, and now has had four children – the latest little Percy who hung permanently from her fur. For the first eight years of their lives, orangs are inseparable from their mothers – that's longer than any species, including human. They need this time to learn which leaves and fruits are edible, where to find them, and at what time of year. As adults they live a largely solitary existence, and roam large areas of jungle: if we can save them, then we will save their forests.
My thanks to the Orang Foundation and Discovery Initiatives (an inspiring and ecologically aware travel company that set the excursion up, and which I would unhesitatingly recommend for trips to see snow leopards, gorillas, and much else besides.) Soon I'll write an article in the Mail-on-Sunday on this short trip of mine, and the orangs – these our precious arboreal first cousins.
I'm speaking at the Outdoor Adventure Show on Sunday February 20th 11.30 – see Events page. (Not to be confused with the recent Travel and Adventure show, also in Olympia).
I'm still being rather reclusive, writing the Ice Dogs book, articles etc, I'm afraid.
HOWEVER THE FORUM is more active than ever, and you might be interested in having a peek! I do occasionally post messages there and do read all messages – though be aware that I receive up to 50 emails a day, and as all messages to the Forum also get copied to my In Tray they do sometimes get lost among the bureaucracy. Current discussions include classic railway journeys, the ethics of filming so-called "tribal people," best places to visit on the planet... To register with the Forum, see the link above.
I'm constantly asked what I think of Tribe, a BBC 2 series currently showing. (BBC 2, Monday nights, 9pm). I think its not altogether my place to comment, but two newspapers have now rung me, trying to get me to say its an example of BBC (a) "dumbing down" and (b) of the BBC now being especially "unethical". Afterall, it's a far cry from Under the Sun, the old BBC strand. Anyway, let me just say : although there were misgivings about the series, at the RGS and even among BBC producers, mainly centring on the intrusion of a crew among remote so-called "tribal" people for only superficial visits and observations (the shoots were only of a few weeks), however, I think the presenter comes over as warm and sensitive and articulate. This is obviously not anthropology and not exploration – one reviewer likened it to a "Blue Peter Special" – but I'm pleasantly surprised. Worth a look, certainly – see what you think.