Bitten by the Amazon | The Sunday Times


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Bitten by the Amazon

Steve Backshall undergoes a Brazilian tribal ritual involving 400 ant bites that marks a rite of passage to manhood

Steve Backshall
Published: 6 January 2008

After 34 years, I have finally officially become a man. This momentous event happened during an Amazonian tribal ritual in which I endured pain that's reputed to be worse than 100 bullets. Well, I say I endured it - actually, I cried like a stuck piglet for three whole hours.

I have just returned from the jungles of the Brazilian Amazon, where I've been shooting a wildlife documentary for Discovery Channel. Called The Venom Hunter, it essentially involves me finding as many peculiar poisonous animals as possible, while living with the tribes that use, or are abused by, their toxins.

Away in those forests, far from roads or towns, the critter-catching was unrivalled. A green-striped vine snake slithered along my arm, her tongue flickering as though she was waving a fan in my face. There were glass frogs at the water's edge, their transparent bellies revealing their internal organs, complete with

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