10 March 2016

elephantsOver the past decade more than 1,000 rangers have been killed by illegal poachers, devastating families and impacting wildlife populations including elephants, lions and leopards in protected areas across the world.

It’s an issue which propelled Australian Park Ranger Sean Willmore to sell his car, remortgage his house and make a documentary: The Thin Green Line in 2007. Since then he has travelled to over 50 different countries to help rangers on the frontline of poaching and support the families of those who have been killed.

Next week, as President of the International Ranger Federation and Founder and Director of its charity arm, The Thin Green Line Foundation, Sean will deliver a UniSA 25th Birthday Iconic Lecture, presented by The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre at the University.

The evening will be an opportunity to learn more about Sean’s experiences and his dedication to a cause which has since been championed by British conservationist Dr Dame Jane Goodall, pop star Goyte, the Clintons, and the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge.

From providing assistance for anti-poaching training programs, creating security camps and facilitating  medical assistance for park rangers in conflict zones, to financially supporting widows and orphans, the Thin Green Line Foundation describes itself as the world’s only charity solely dedicated to protecting endangered species and threatened ecosystems, by supporting park rangers.

As the Foundation receives frequent reports of rangers being killed or injured, Sean describes the organisation’s work as analogous to fighting a battle, and it’s one that can only be won with considerable support.

“Just this week on the way to a speaking engagement I received a call about a ranger who had been shot and killed in Central America and so we aimed to get some support out there in Costa Rica. Another ranger was paralysed in Congo. Every week we get similar reports coming through,” Sean says.

“For every ranger that is killed there are usually a few more who are severely injured. A lot of the rangers we support are community based or indigenous rangers in different countries so this work also helps the community.

“Meeting and talking with the families of those who have been killed or injured is harrowing. The fact that one widow described the support the charity provided as “light in the darkness”, enabling her children to go back to school, was really encouraging and something I won’t forget.”

Sean says that the Foundation relies on more people supporting its cause and this can be done through the ranger’s ally program, accessible through the Thin Green Line Foundation website (link here)

“There is hope but support means more than just clicking “like” on a Facebook page – that isn’t activism. People can sign up online to become a ranger’s ally - you don’t have to be on the front line but you can have their back in other ways.

“When you support rangers you are increasing capacity to protect nature, protecting nature’s protectors.”

An evening with Sean Willmore, Founder and Director of The Thin Green Line Foundation, will take place from 6pm - 7.15pm on March 16 at the Allan Scott Auditorium, Hawke building, UniSA City West campus.

Media contact: Will Venn office +61 883020096 mob 0401366054 email will.venn@unisa.edu.au

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