President of the International Ranger Federation, Sean Willmore, a park ranger from Victoria, founded the Thin Green Line Foundation in 2007. His main aim was to educate and assist wildlife rangers and their families. Over 1000 rangers have been killed over the last decade, with around 80% of this number murdered. Often the rangers are working out in the elements, on the frontline, lacking basic essentials. The Thin Green Line Foundation endeavours to ‘Protect Nature’s Protectors’ by providing much needed training, resources and vital equipment. It also gives support to widows and children of injured or bereaved rangers.
To help raise money and awareness, the foundation will host ‘Green Line Grooves’ on World Ranger Day. The concert will recognise and celebrate all of the rangers around the world who put their own lives on the line in order to protect the planet. Wally De Baker (Gotye) will perform, as will Tex Perkins, Nicky Bomba, Tinpan Orange, Damian Howard, and Makana.
It is no small feat to gather all of these artists together. They will play songs from their own back catalogue and will no doubt collaborate on a few songs- a rare occasion to see some of Australia’s most renown musicians performing and interacting.
“The music is defiantly a big part of getting the message out there without hitting people over the head with the message,” said President Sean Willmore.
“I have been a ranger for 12 years and ¾ of the way through I went to an international conference and I realised how many people were being killed trying to protect and so, I sold my car, re-mortgaged my house and set off around the world.”
“I raised all of this money but there was no charity set up. I was on a plane, sitting next to a lawyer and he said he would help set it up.”
There was a snowball effect, mainly brought about by a documentary film Willmore made. His documentary, Thin Green Line, explored the work of ranges spanning six different continents. It was premiered in 50 countries at once, and approximately 15,000 people tuned in to watch on International Rangers Day, August 1.
“When I launched the film, the music was such an important part. I love music. I am a try hard musician and I have a deep respect and love for music and the emotions and energy it can harness.”
“The music became ingrained- without the guilt- it was the message ‘don’t feel guilty, feel empowered.”
The musical component to this campaign is part of the oxygen that keeps it alive and breathing. Not only does it set the tone for the visual component, it alerts different senses in the viewer and activates different responses in the brain.
Willmore is an ambassador that seeks not to take people’s money, that is not his sole objective. He looks for avenues that lead to good outcomes. His primary endeavour is to increase awareness. Fortunately he has a handful of high profile artists to help him achieve exposure. The ‘Superband’, as Nicky Bomba has dubbed it, is set to put on a special night of music to honour rangers worldwide.
“Nicky came up with the idea and I just feel so lucky to be at the rehearsals!”
“It is a unique gig. It’s Gotye’s first gig in Melbourne in two years. Gecko Travel is sponsoring us and you can win a trip to India! It is great.”
“One of the biggest organ in the Southern Hemisphere is in the Melbourne Town Hall and that might get a play on the night.”
The show will be a welcome relief and distraction from all of the ills in the world, yet at the same time, it will be raising funds to make things a little better for those in need.
“Even a five dollar mosquito net to stop malaria is such a huge help. All the little things help tremendously.”
There are many animals and ecosystems in danger and in decline. This is nothing new, but the continued diminishment is having an increasingly severe effect on nature’s biodiversity. If the death and distress does not lessen, the ramifications will continue to run deep and span wide. Hunters and loggers are causing unnecessary destruction and it goes beyond the flora and fauna. Wildlife rangers whose aim it is to conserve and protect are coming under fire. Of those 1000 ranges that have been killed over the last decade, many leave behind wives and children.
The Thin Green Lines Foundation encourages you to come and have fun, on behalf on a very worthy cause.
The concert takes place on World Rangers Day, August 1, at the Melbourne Town Hall.
Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite
After the success of the first documentary, Australian Story will air a follow up episode on Monday July 14