2014 BANKSIA INTERNATIONAL AWARD
Sean Willmore, Australia
This is only the second time in Banksia’s 26 year history that The Banksia Foundation have recognised an Australian with this international accolade.
- President of the International Ranger Federation (IRF)
- Founder and Managing Director Founder and Managing Director, The Thin Green Line Foundation
Sean’s determination has meant despite economic, political and geographical boundaries he has leapt unthinkable hurdles and connected the unlikeliest of organisations, NGOs, corporates, governments and grass root supporters to tackle this issue at its coal face and support park rangers and their families, working on the dangerously thin green line. The Banksia Board would like to congratulate Sean Willmore, and while we recognise the amazing work of IRF and The Thin Green Line Foundation we understand there is much more to still be done. We encourage everyone to be inspired by and support Sean in his quest to ‘Protect Nature’s Protectors’.
The International Ranger Federation is an alliance of 64 associations on six continents. The IRF’s charity arm, The Thin Green Line Foundation, is the world’s only NGO solely dedicated to protecting endangered species and threatened ecosystems by supporting park rangers and the widows and orphans of rangers killed in the line of duty. In the past 10 years it is estimated that over 1,000 rangers have been killed in the line of duty, 75% of them by commercial poachers and armed militia groups.
Sean doesn’t just talk the talk; he really does walk the walk.
He has worked with rangers and partner organisations on the frontline of conservation in over 50 countries worldwide. From working in war zones in the Congo to Colombia he has himself has faced the dangerous reality many rangers face every day. Sean once had to pretend to be a priest to avoid a poaching militia pulling the trigger on an AK47 that was pointed at his head.
Willmore says, ‘It’s the rangers that are out there every single day, that sacrifice so much, who hardly see their families, who risk their lives, and sometimes lose their lives- they are the true heroes. My role is perhaps simply as a conduit to try and get them and their families and communities the support and respect they deserve’
After initially selling his car and re-mortgaging his house in 2004 Sean travelled for 12 months around the world to make a film, the Thin Green Line, about his inspiring colleagues. Three years later, on the simultaneous release of the film in 35 countries and 328 locations, he started the foundation of the same name to support rangers and their families.
His supporters refer to him as a social entrepreneur for rangers and frontline conservation. A more modest Sean says, ‘I’m just doing what I can for rangers and conservation, that needs doing – desperately. There’s an amazing group of people behind me, and others that work behind the scenes to support these heroes of conservation’.
Sean together with The Thin Green Line team, partners and supporters has to date supported over 100 widows of rangers with new farmlets, business set ups, school fees and with that 400+ children, equipped and trained hundreds of rangers via collaborative partnerships, helped to rebuild rangers houses burnt down by poachers, provide first aid training and equipment, invested in fresh water purification and TTGLF has given emergency aid in times of war and conflict. TTGLF has protected over 2500 rangers.