A SCOTS wildlife expert who lead the world's largest rodent eradication project when he helped drive rats from a globally important seabird sanctuary in the South Atlantic has been named 'Conservationist of the Year'.

Professor Tony Martin, project director at Scottish charity, the South Georgia Heritage Trust, is set to receive the prestigious award from the Zoological Society of London.

Prof Martin spearheaded the so-called "Team Rat" project on South Georgia island, a British Overseas Territory, from 2007 until 2015.

The aim was to kill off the island's rats for the first time in 200 years to enable the native seabirds to flourish and save some rare species, including the South Georgia pipit, from extinction.

Since arriving on island on on whaling and sealing vessels, rats have preyed on ground-nesting seabirds, resulting in the dramatic loss of the island’s diversity.

Project planning began in earnest in 2007, and the baiting work - using rat poison pellets - was undertaken in three phases, in 2011, 2013 and 2015.

Monitoring work to date indicates that the first phase of baiting was successful, and a large survey at the end of 2017 will assess whether the areas baited during the second and third phases were similarly effective in removing every single rodent.

Prof Martin, who is also a Professor of Animal Conservation at Dundee University, said he was "immensely proud" to be named Conservationist of the Year.

He added: "It was a privilege to lead such a remarkable team of people, 'Team Rat' as we became known, on this breath-taking sub-Antarctic island."