Rhys to the Rescue

15 September 2010

Photo (c) BBC

Capita Symonds’ Dr Rhys Jones is hosting his own television series – ‘Rhys to the Rescue’ – which starts on BBC1 Wales (Sky Channel 972) at 7.30pm on Wednesday September 22nd 2010.

The four week series sees Rhys – a consultant ecologist and reptile specialist in Capita Symonds’ Cwmbran office – travelling the globe to tackle all manner of animal predicaments including tarantulas brought home by a schoolboy, a boa constrictor that’s escaped from a bedroom, and a tiny bat housed in a cardboard box.

The series also sees Rhys tracking down a colony of adders who need to be removed before a new building development can go ahead. Rhys helps Wales’s leading reptile vet - Mark Evans - to microchip them, providing a unique experiment which analyses what happens to the snakes when they are relocated.

As well as being a Doctor and a Distinguished Visiting Fellow to Cardiff University, Rhys is a geneticist, parasitologist, phylogeographist, BLAVA (Home Office) qualified venomous snake handling expert, ecologist, conservation biologist and studier of animal behaviour. In the first programme of the new series Welsh troops about to undertake a tour of duty learn from Rhys how to tackle the snake and scorpion bites suffered by around 600 military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq every year. They may be battle-hardened veterans, but these soldiers are less keen on facing Rhys’s snakes than their usual enemy!

In the third episode he visits Kenya with his students from Cardiff University’s Tropical Ecology Field course. While there, he is called out to investigate the death of a dog from a venomous snake bite at a remote 1000 acre farm. His job is to track down the snake and move it away from the farm, protecting not only the family that live there, but also the snake itself, which would have been shot if sighted.

Other highlights from the series include Rhys:

  • Supporting police during operations to combat alien species at large in Wales;
  • Being called to rescue some sea turtles and immediately ‘Running Lines’ in order to clear an impaction caused by ingested plastics (this involves inserting small lengths of plastic tube into the turtle’s stomach to introduce a mix of cod liver oil, wind ease and  laxative to encourage peristaltic movement of  the alimentary canal);
  • Becoming responsible for parasitology for the last four northern white rhinos in Africa. During stool collection he illustrates his knowledge of rhino behaviour by walking up to a black rhino and making it roll over on its back so his stomach can be tickled;
  • Lasooing lizards;
  • Helping a local man get over his fear of crocodiles by ‘clapping out’ (a method of attracting crocodiles by imitating the sound they make when feeding) six Nile crocodiles, hand feeding them, and gently pushing them back into the river.