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Chris Packham: In Search of the Lost Girl

Real-life detective story. Chris Packham returns to Sumatra to search for a girl from a nomadic tribe he photographed 20 years ago to discover what has happened to her jungle home.

In 1998, wildlife enthusiast and photographer Chris Packham had a remarkable encounter with the Orang Rimba, a tribe of hunter gatherers in the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. It was the first time he had ever seen people living in perfect harmony with their environment. One photograph in particular that Chris took, a picture of a young tribal girl, has since become immensely important to him as a barometer of how we are treating our planet. In this real-life detective story, with no clues as to her identity or whereabouts other than his original photograph, Chris sets off to Sumatra 20
years on to try to find her; the girl in the picture.

Chris's search is further complicated because her tribe is nomadic and often cover vast distances on foot, and since he was last there, millions of hectares of her rainforest habitat has been destroyed. Piecing together the clues, Chris discovers to his horror that the girl's close-knit group of Orang Rimba was attacked not long after he met them, and a number of them killed. But was the girl among them?

Chris travels into the heart of Sumatra and tries to discover the girl's fate by meeting the men who pulled the murdered tribespeople's bodies out of the river. On his way, he discovers just how much of Sumatra's once pristine rainforests have been replaced by palm oil plantations, palm oil which
is in around 50% of the products we buy in our supermarkets. Chris learns some uncomfortable truths about how we are all in some way connected to deforestation.

As Chris's investigation reaches its dramatic conclusion, will he find the lost girl alive? If so, will she be living in harmony with nature as she was 20 years ago? Or will Chris discover the deforestation of her island has had terrible consequences for her?

59 minutes

Last on

Sat 26 Jan 2019 20:00

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:03



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    Agnes Obel


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    The National

    Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

  • 00:27


    Arrival In Nara

  • 00:32

    Agnes Obel


  • 00:36

    The National


  • 00:36




Role Contributor
Presenter Chris Packham
Producer Dominick French
Director Dominick French


  • Sun 28 Jan 2018 21:00
  • Tue 30 Jan 2018 23:15
  • Fri 16 Feb 2018 00:15
  • Mon 17 Sep 2018 23:15
  • Sat 26 Jan 2019 19:30
  • Sat 26 Jan 2019 20:00

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