• Molly Brown

The SockStar Project

I am currently working with Lew, Founder of The SockStar Project (TSP), to find new revenue opportunities whilst fundraising options are limited due to COVID-19. Building partnerships with new organisations is one of the first steps we are taking to raise capital at this time. Watch this space for new partnerships on the horizon!

The Reality for Rangers under the 'New Norm' of COVID-19

Whilst writing my first partnership proposal for TSP a horrendous rebel attack took place in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The attack took the lives of 13 Wildlife Rangers as well as multiple civilians being escorted at the time. If there were ever to be a stark reminder of the bravery of Wildlife Rangers, this was it.

COVID-19 has brought about a time of great uncertainty for conservation work across all fields from scientific research to the tourism sector. However, I would dare to say one of the most poignant realisations of the impacts of COVID-19 (whilst I am in the safety and comfort of my home) is the dangerous impact it imposes on Rangers and their dependent wildlife populations. In particular, Rangers have been left extremely vulnerable due to the increased poaching risk. Less boots on the ground, reduced funding and constant readjustments and re-strategising in the face of the 'new norm' imposed by the novel coronavirus has left Rangers and on the ground conservationists in an unprecedentedly susceptible position. Every day Rangers' lives are lost, yet these crucial lives remain undervalued for their contribution to protecting species and their ecosystems. Writing a partnership proposal with the hope of it leading to improving the lives of some of these brave men and women is a minuscule task in light of the world around me at the moment. However, more now than ever, supporting Rangers has become essential. At a time when what is being asked of them is unfathomable to most people, we must support Rangers around the world in any and every way we can.

Wildlife Rangers have always been of interest to me since beginning my conservation career. Five years ago on a game reserve in Zimbabwe I had my first experience with Wildlife Rangers, Patrol Units, and anti-poaching as a whole. There was an active and successful Anti-Poaching Unit on the reserve I volunteered on to protect the resident Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis) population. Meeting some of the Rangers, involvement with the management team and having a 'behind-the-scenes' position on my program enabled me to see a glimpse into the realities of the life of a Ranger. Since these experiences, my respect for Rangers and desire to work in the conservation field in relation to supporting Ranger teams has never ceased.

Writing the partnership proposal alone served as a good reminder of my passion to see these unsung heroes of conservation recognised for their work and dedication. The attack in Virunga NP swiftly broke this nostalgic reminiscence, rather igniting my determination once again to protect the on-the-ground conservationists I respect so dearly.

TSP helps to ensure that Wildlife Rangers welfare needs are met, one Ranger at a time. Without good welfare standards how can anyone expect these brave men and women to put their lives on the line day in and day out? For most people it is not fathomable and this is where one must understand that Rangers are not most people. The determination and bravery needed to be a Wildlife Ranger is seldom found. It goes beyond race, gender, ethnicity and orientations. It is a rare combination of strength, empathy and courage. Wildlife treasured around the world by animal lovers, conservationists, scientists and researchers can only be protected, particularly in today's uncertain times, if we support Wildlife Rangers every step of the way.

No matter one's relationship with wildlife, understanding the bravery of Rangers is a certain way to realise why I, and so many others across the world, want to ensure the welfare of those on the ground is improved. Protecting vulnerable species is a multifaceted challenge, and should not be forgotten for the risk it imposes on the lives of those willing to be on the front line.

100% of donations to The SockStar Project go to helping Ranger welfare.

Please donate today.

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(Name of proposed partnership company redacted from proposal image for anonymity)

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