Born in 1954 in Basel, Switzerland, Manser was from an early age interested in indigenous cultures and living close to nature. After several years as a shepherd in the Swiss Alps, Manser joined the Penan nomads of Sarawak, Malaysia. He stayed with them for six years before finally fleeing the country with a bounty on his head. He spent the 1990s advocating on behalf of the Penan through his organization, the Bruno Manser Fund, by giving lectures, writing books and by appearing in films and on television. He also staged more spectacular protests, by going on a hunger strike and paragliding into the Sarawak Chief Minister’s backyard to get more attention for the cause of the Penan. Manser went missing in the Sarawak jungle in 2000 and was officially declared dead in Switzerland in 2005.