Brains behind Africa's first all female anti-poaching unit shares his story
The Australian-born special forces sniper is now using the lesson and skills he gained from the military to help support conservation in Africa.
After leaving the Australian military a decade ago, Mander says he came to the continent looking for a fight but instead found a cause.
He launched the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) and began recruiting and training women to become wildlife rangers in Zimbabwe’s Lower Zambezi Valley.
Many of the rangers in the special anti-poaching unit, known as The Akashinga (or “brave ones") are survivors of abuse and exploitation.
Mander says the unit has empowered the women from several villages and communities where wildlife conservation is the traditionally male-dominated space.
The unit operates in Phunduna Nature Reserve which is a block on the southern border of Mana Pools Reserve in the Lower Zambezi Valley.
I eventually ended up travelling around Africa, looking to put a set of unsavoury skills to a different use - and I found conservation.Damien Mander, Founder - International Anti-Poaching Foundation
11 years ago, I wanted to run around the bush and hunt poachers. You realise it's not about that. There's much more to conservation.Damien Mander, Founder - International Anti-Poaching Foundation
It will be the people that decide the future of conservation, not bigger fences or more guns.Damien Mander, Founder - International Anti-Poaching Foundation
If you're going to provide an opportunity, do it for the ones who need it the most.Damien Mander, Founder - International Anti-Poaching Foundation
Mander joined CapeTalk's Pippa Hudson in studio to discuss his journey.
Listen to the fascinating discussion:
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