The Netherlands CarSmash

Twin brothers Steven and Brian Krijger use hammers to scrap a car to express their frustration as the Netherlands undergoes another lockdown in Vijfhuizen, Netherlands, on 5th January. PICTURE: Reuters/Piroschka van de Wouw

Frustrated over COVID-19 and need an outlet? People in the Netherlands have been invited to express their built-up anger and frustrations at "CarSmash", a project aimed at providing just that. Merlijn Boshuizen, who runs "CarSmash" from a breakers' yard in Vijfhuizen near Amsterdam, says clients begin by spray-painting "what's present in their lives" onto their chosen vehicle. "The minute that they start wrecking the car, we ask them to close their eyes, to feel their feet on the floor, feel the power, every vein in your body, feel what you are doing, and in that way to try to get it out of your life." Meanwhile, a few miles to the south in the Hague, vocal coach Julie Scott runs "Screech at the Beach", a scheme with similar aims that she developed while looking for "something physical and something to release some of the tension" built up by not being able to work indoors. Facing into the wind side-by-side with Julie as it whipped off the sea, client Rozemarijn Kardijk jumped up and down yelling until she ran of breath while trying to suppress a laugh. "You can just - Whaa! Let yourself go," said Rozemarijn, a management secretary hoping to learn to speak with more confidence in her professional life. "You don't have to think about other things, it's the wideness of the beach and the sea...Your voice goes over the sea and it doesn't return to you. It's a sense of freedom."

Germany sheep form syringe

A German shepherd campaigns for COVID-19 vaccinations by forming a giant syringe using 700 sheep and goats in Schneverdingen, south of Hamburg, Germany, on 3rd January. Picture taken with a drone. PICTURE: natuerlichteambuilding.de/Hanspeter Etzold/Handout via Reuters.

 A German campaigner is hoping the emotional appeal of 700 sheep forming the shape of a giant syringe will reach the hearts and minds of people hesitating to take a COVID-19 injection. Germany has lower vaccination rates most other Western European nations, although some are simply unsure if they should get a jab rather than vehemently opposed to vaccination. "Sheep are popular with people and carry positive emotional connotations. So perhaps they can reach many people emotionally when logic and scientific reasoning don't do the job," the organiser of the campaign, Hanspeter Etzold, told Reuters. Etzold works with shepherds, companies and animals to run team-building events in the northern German town of Schneverdingen. "I have noticed how enthusiastically the sheep are received and that it simply reaches people deep inside, which is perhaps not possible rationally, with rational arguments," he said. The animals, which belong to shepherd Steffen Schmidt and his wife, followed pieces of bread spread on the ground to form the 100 metre long syringe shape as they were filmed by drone. 

Cambodia Magawa the rat

Magawa, the recently retired mine detection rat, plays with his former handler So Malen at the APOPO Visitor Center in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on 10th June. PICTURE: Reuters/Cindy Liu

Sad news from Cambodia where Magawa, a famous rat who was awarded a gold medal for its efforts in clearing landmines, died at the age of eight last weekend. The African giant pouch rat, which was bred in Tanzania, is credited with detecting more than 100 landmines and other explosives and reportedly cleared more than 141,000 square metres during his five year career. He was the most successful rat trained by the Belgian charity Apopo. The charity said Magawa, who had 'retired' from its work last year, passed away "peacefully" last weekend after slowing down and showing less interest in food in preceding days. In 2020, Magawa was awarded a gold medal by UK veterinary charity PDSA for his "life-saving devotion to duty". He was the first rat to receive the medal in the charity's 77-year history.

- With ESTHER VERKAIK, TANJA DAUBE and ANNKATHRIN WEIS/Reuters.