Paul Brodrick; a former Marine Commando and volunteer for the charity Veterans for Wildlife, talked to us about his passion for conservation and why coming face to face with wild animals has tested him even more than his time in the military.
How did you first become interested in wildlife conservation?
As a South African, born and raised in Cape Town, the family would take regular trips into the bush – all but my younger brother, Glenn, and I are from Zimbabwe, and for them the bush was home. Over the years we took a number of trips to Zimbabwe and this is where my passion for wildlife and conservation was realised. The scale of the death and destruction caused by humans as a result of expansion and increased consumption became more and more apparent year after year. Seeing this I realised that we have to find a way to protect and conserve the natural habitat of species like rhinos and elephants before it’s too late.
Can you describe a typical working day?
When I’m not volunteering for Veterans for Wildlife and training rangers, my current ‘day job’ sees me away from home for long periods of time. After leaving the British military in 2009, during which time I served on operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I found myself in private security industry – it seemed an easy and natural transition at the time. Since 2009 I have retrained and qualified as a close protection officer and paramedic, registered in both Great Britain and the United States. In South Africa I am a registered EMT and volunteer my time to the Emergency Medical Services when I can. Currently working in the Middle-East as a Private Security Detail Paramedic I am tasked as a Team Member and Team Medic providing protection to clients conducting business in hostile and volatile areas of the region, as well as the on-site Paramedic servicing employee and client medical needs.
My experience as a paramedic has served me well in my work for Veterans for Wildlife. As well as the threat posed by armed poachers, rangers face many other dangers such as snake bites, high temperatures, dangerous terrain and predators. We provide first aid training and essential medical supplies, which can literally make the difference between life and death for a ranger injured in the bush.
What’s the most frightening situation you’ve ever found yourself in?
I can’t quite put my finger on one specific situation or incident – over the years I, and many others in the industry, find ourselves in demanding and challenging situation which require us to draw upon our expertise, skills, and experiences. Man is far more predictable and easily read than animals, and for that reason I would have to say my time in the bush has tested me far more so than my time in the military and private security industry. Coming face to face with a wild animal is a very humbling experience.
What (wildlife related) achievement are you proudest of?
My time spent representing Veterans for Wildlife has been my most satisfying wildlife related achievement to date and I hope to continue showing my support, not only to Veterans for Wildlife, but also to conservation more generally.
Why is this campaign so important?
We’re raising £5000 to pay for 110 individual field medical kits which will include the essentials for not only bleeding control, but also airway maintenance, CPR, burns and minor wounds. Those on the frontline tasked with the near impossible task of protecting animals from poachers are under-funded and under-resourced and our Christmas Medical Appeal will provide them with up-to-date personal medical kits, knowledge, and lifesaving skills they desperately need to be fully effective.
What do you believe needs to happen to stop poaching of rhinos and other animals?
First and Foremost the education of the communities living within and on the borders of the reserves, secondly, empowering the rangers tasked to protect our wildlife with the skills, knowledge, and equipment needed to do their jobs effectively. Equally importantly, the South African government must fully acknowledge the crisis that is plaguing our country by handing out harsher sentences to poachers, providing more resources and money, and stamping out corruption within the agencies responsible for combating the issue.
What’s your favourite animal and why?
I don’t have any one favourite animal as such – they are equally unique and important in their own special ways.
Click here to find out more about Veterans for Wildlife’s Christmas medical appeal and to make a donation. You can claim a free Veterans for Wildlife wrist band when you donate £5 and a free Mad Rhino pin when you donate £10 or more.