Point­less ad­ven­tures in an­i­mal ha­rass­ment

Dan­ger­ous En­coun­ters: Dead­li­est Snakes 6.30pm, Na­tional Ge­o­graphic

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Stephen Matchett

IT’S a jun­gle in the world of wildlife doc­u­men­taries as talk­ing heads com­pete for rat­ings by an­noy­ing an­i­mals with short tem­pers.

One ex­am­ple is her­petol­o­gist Brady Barr who sets out the many alarm­ing abil­i­ties of Rus­sell’s ( no, not Crowe) viper and the black mamba, just two of the snakes the good doc­tor ex­plains why it is not wise to ir­ri­tate, as he does just that.

The premise of this pro­gram is that there are vast num­bers of peo­ple whose lives will be richer for know­ing all about the ‘‘ bad boys of the snake world’’, as Barr puts it.

So he starts turf fights with snakes in Africa and In­dia in the com­pany of lo­cal ex­perts who do most of the catch­ing while he does all the talk­ing. ( Ev­i­dently the Aus­tralian species fea- tured was a snake too far away be­cause the dis­cus­sion of the in­land taipan oc­curred in South Dakota.)

Brady’s script is straight from the stan­dard killer- wildlife play­book. He tells us how big a risk he is tak­ing, then lights out af­ter the be­nighted rep­tile he is pur­su­ing with a cry of ‘‘ snake, snake, snake’’, pre­sum­ably in case the pro­ducer, make- up peo­ple and cater­ers out of shot thought they were look­ing for a moose.

He helps to poke and prod his vic­tim into a con­tainer while re­gal­ing us with alarm­ing fac­toids of the ‘‘ just one glance from this snake can kill a bul­lock at 1000m in the dark’’ variety.

And he keeps it up for 50 min­utes, some of which are en­ter­tain­ing enough. The stand- off with the 4m rock python is im­pres­sive, al­though the shots of it re­gur­gi­tat­ing its last meal in an at­tempt to slim down and es­cape may not be to ev­ery­one’s taste.

Barr also has a frank ex­change with a king co­bra, which growls when an­noyed, mak­ing an ex­cel­lent case for leav­ing it alone. But a few min­utes’ footage of snakes be­ing en­snared does not a doc­u­men­tary make. So, to pad out the pro­gram Barr rates the rep­tiles on five at­tributes, pre­sum­ably to as­sist peo­ple in a po­si­tion to se­lect the one that bites them.

Some of the cri­te­ria seem sen­si­ble: size, vol­ume and tox­i­c­ity of venom, and num­ber of hu­man vic­tims. How­ever, Barr also in­cludes per­son­al­ity, per­haps to dis­tin­guish be­tween brood­ing rep­tiles and the jolly ones that bite with a smile, but it does seem a silly way to dis­tin­guish sev­eral sorts of snakes that can all kill you if they feel in­clined. Still, he’s the her­petol­o­gist. But given the chance of run­ning into any of th­ese rep­tiles any­where in set­tled Aus­tralia is less than zero it is hard to see a point to the pro­gram. It’s silly as a cut snake, re­ally.

Pic­ture: Na­tional Ge­o­graphic

Li­cence to coil: Brady Barr, right, hav­ing some one- on- one time with a rock python

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.