Wild Response Brings Special Forces Training to the Fight Against Wildlife Poaching
Kevin Garrad served 16yrs and numerous tours of duty in a US Army career that included eight years as a Special Forces ‘Green Beret’. Today, he’s taking on an equally critical challenge. As Founder and President of Wild Response, Garrad trains wildlife rangers who serve as the ‘thin green line’ against illegal poaching of endangered species. Wild Response recently launched its first fundraiser, a GoFundMe campaign whose proceeds will extend its vital anti-poaching work in Africa and Southeast Asia.
The worldwide market for illegally poached wildlife items (horns, ivory, skins, scales etc.) will reach approximately $23 billion this year; more than 130 species in Southeast Asia alone have been placed on the critically endangered list specifically because of the illegal wildlife trade. Wild Response trains, advises, and provides critical equipment and support to rangers across Africa and South East Asia in their efforts to combat poachers, giving endangered species a chance at survival, and halting the decline of biodiversity in some of the Earth’s most ecologically complex places.
Garrad found his calling as a wildlife ranger consultant after retiring from Special forces. Supporting wildlife rangers in their mission to protect our planet's diverse (and in some cases close to extinction) species struck him as a way to share his training and experience with men and women completing one of our planets most dangerous and under reported jobs.
“Wildlife rangers work constructively with local populations, protecting indigenous species against brutal poaching gangs, the risks they take are massive and they are up against difficult and well-armed odds. Sadly, often these rangers are not given the necessary training, equipment and technological support they need to take on well-funded anti-poaching operations. We aim to change that”, notes Garrad.
After founding Wild Response with fellow Army veteran Jeff Mazziotta, Garrad now spends most of his time away from his Massachusetts home, training wildlife rangers throughout Africa and Asia, partnering and assisting with non-profits involved in endangered species conservation. He recently returned from Nepal, where he attended the world’s largest gathering of Wildlife Rangers at the 9th International Wildlife Ranger Conference (70 countries, 550+ rangers), and discovered first-hand the insurmountable dangers, hardships and loss of life they face daily around the world.
“Over the years, we’ve honed our training curricula and developed a strong network of conservation groups and government agencies,” says Mazziotta, a combat engineer by training with extensive groundwork in landmine clearance (for a Non-government organization in Angola) “So far, we’ve achieved great results as a self-funded organization. But, with a network of financial support behind us, we’ll be able to train and provide the critical equipment needed by wildlife rangers to ensure their safety and the lives of the animals they protect.
Source: Cape Cod Today