“Survivorman” Les Stroud on his new show on Discovery Channel
He has survived black bears in Alaska, explored the scorching sands of the Kalahari and ventured into the densest parts of the Amazon; Les Stroud spent years surviving some of the remotest locations on earth. His struggles and triumphs became part of Survivorman, one of the top rated shows on Discovery Channel. Now Stroud has returned with a new series, Beyond Survival With Les Stroud, where he spends time with tribals, learns their techniques, takes part in their rituals and ceremonies and discovers the secrets of how these cultures have survived for thousands of years.
Excerpts from an e-mail interview:
Take us through the show…
After “Survivorman”, this was a different approach as I got a chance to go deeper into it and work with all of the various indigenous peoples around the world. Some of them even still close to being Stone Age, and learn from them on the ground, and also in a very big way take part in their ceremonies and rituals and rites of passage, things that connect them to the earth spiritually, because I think that's a big part of survival as well. That was it. I travelled all around the world, circled the globe about ten times in eight months and was with the Mentawai in Indonesia, Veddah in Sri Lanka, Hewa in Papua New Guinea, Inca in Peru, and many others. I think the ceremonies were a very big part of the process for me, and that's the series.
You have proved it is possible to break free from the trappings of modern day luxuries and be one with the nature. Is it a practical pursuit? Some may argue it is regressive or atavistic tendency to have.
What I find is that survival skills and living in wilderness represent the type of skills that cause you to become so close to nature because you need to touch and feel the earth, touch and feel rocks, touch and feel the trees, the breeze, the wind, the water. Survival is a skill that causes you to slow down and really enjoy nature. I would say it definitely inspires people to get closer to nature.
Is it an expensive pursuit, an alternative game for people who have seen everything and want to return to the basics?
Since I've done Survivorman, I've had numerous, who have survived in the wilderness and have come out and said because I've watched Survivorman I knew what to do. I'm very humbled by that but also very proud of that at the same time. In a way, I don't really need to kill an animal to eat for survival. I'm here to show you what you could do if you really had to and sometimes that means taking the life of an animal. So, if you are looking for a game, then that's not this show. This show is about survival.
Tell us about your passion for music and how did it translate into the love for nature. Where do the two meet?
That's where I was - I was doing music and television, at some point I became a little bit disillusioned with it and wanted something else. I knew that adventure was what I wanted, so I started taking a lot of courses in survival and training in survival and I really loved it, along with white water canoeing and other things. Then at one point, I just thought I could put the two of them together and start filming all of these adventures I was having, and basically out of that my first series for Discovery Channel – Survivorman was born.
How do you manage family life? Have you converted everybody around you?
My family, my kids, they're getting older so now they're able to actually take an interest and know that there's not the fear level. When they were younger, especially when I would do Shark Week or something like that, there was a bit of fear level from my younger son. But now when possible they come with me, my son actually came and was able to experience some of these remote cultures, which I think is an incredible education for them.