Thin Green Line

(Originally published in Pearl Magazine)



The Greenline Grooves CD is a compilation of wonderful Australian artists, including Gotye, Tex Perkins and Dan Sultan. All funds will go towards sustaining The Thin Green Line Foundation, which supports families of the hundreds of courageous Park Rangers killed each year while protecting vulnerable wildlife; as well as providing training, equipment and raising awareness for the dangers they face daily.

In 2004, after meeting international rangers with “visible bullet and machete wounds” inflicted by poachers, Victorian ranger and TGLF founder Sean Wilmore left his stable life with a camera in hand and no film-making experience to traverse 23 countries, filming some of the ”best and the worst humanity has to offer.”

“I realised the option of doing nothing was no longer palpable”. But documenting the ranger’s plight was not an easy journey. He’s been ambushed with AK47s pointed to his head, seen warzones, abject poverty, and the “atrocious” things done to rangers.  “It gave me a real perspective for my own good fortune.” Maybe because of this, Willmore is infinitely positive about the sacrifices he’s made to keep the foundation going.  “I’ve just sold my house. But I may need somewhere to park my motorhome!” he laughs.

Although he never had a “grand plan” to establish the foundation after the documentary, it seemed like an inevitable progression. “A lot of serendipity was involved. It went from trying to do something positive for my colleagues, to realising there’s a missing link in conservation in protecting the protectors of nature. We wanted to pay respect to those at the pointy end of conservation, at the front line”.

“I’ve realised we can make a difference. If we do things with integrity, people with integrity will gather behind us.” He adds “I just wanted to stay on the Luke Skywalker side, instead of the Darth Vader side.”

Recently Willmore has been undercover as an ivory buyer, where he held ivory in his hands. “It was fresh, 10 days old. You could still smell the dead elephant on it.”

Willmore’s tireless passion is clear. And he has enlisted some musical heavyweights to help him disseminate the message, including ambassador Gotye, who has been proudly supporting the foundation for over eight years. Gotye says that TGLF is an “inspiring response to the need for better support of rangers, the wildlife they protect and the habitats that hold our planet in balance”.  Willmore jokes that “Wally (Gotye) even donated a couch to the office”.

“There’s so many heavy issues around; climate change, war, politics. Music is a medium that can raise emotions and reach many more people.  Musicians get a lot of light shone on them, but they are reflecting this light back in our direction.”

All musicians who feature on the CD were already affiliated with TGLF, through benefit gigs etc. The compilation, which includes wonderful Peninsula musicians like Marty Nelson Williams and Tash Parker, has three subtle moods shifts according to Willmore: “The first part is intense, maybe asking the question of what’s going on? The middle is contemplative, and the last segment is positive. Maybe revealing the answer?” Perhaps an inadvertent analogy for humanity.

“I was once that crazy guy dancing alone on a hill, shouting about the world” Wilmore quips, referencing the popular YouTube video.  “Suddenly, people started joining me and it became a movement.” He continues:  “I’m very conscious this work, this foundation, is not owned by me, but by the many people who contribute and add their piece of the puzzle in so many ways.  As long as everybody’s getting involved in something, we’re surely gonna have a better world.”