Damien Mander

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Damien S Mander
Damien Mander - International Anti-Poaching Foundation.jpg
Damien Mander - Anti-Poaching Crusader
Born (1979-12-11) 11 December 1979 (age 37)
Mornington, Australia
Residence Southern Africa
Nationality Australian
Organization International Anti-Poaching Foundation
Website www.iapf.org

Damien Mander (born 11 December 1979 in Mornington, Australia) is a former Australian Royal Navy Clearance Diver and Special Operations military sniper turned anti-poaching crusader.[1][2]

An environmental and animal welfare activist, Mander is outspoken about the priorities of mankind in an increasingly challenged society. He frequently advocates the use of military equipment and tactics for the purpose of protecting animals, including the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

Mander used his life savings and liquidated his investments and assets to fund the start-up and running costs of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation – an organisation dedicated to the protection and preservation of wildlife in some of the world's most volatile regions.[9][10][11][12]

Mander’s personal evolution has seen him recognise the need for protection of all animals, not just from an ethical standpoint, but also from a global environmental perspective. A public speaker, Mander is a vegan who actively encourages his audience to hold back the tide of human encroachment and correct the imbalance between dwindling wilderness areas and rapidly increasing human populations.[13][14][15]

Mander is also a director of the Conservation Guardians.[16]

He resides in Southern Africa with his wife Maria.

Military career and work[edit]

Mander joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1999 (at age 19), where he trained and qualified as a Naval Clearance Diver.[17]

In 2003 he was selected for the Tactical Assault Group (East), an elite direct-action and hostage-recovery unit within the Australian Army’s Special Forces 2nd Commando Regiment, as a special operations sniper.[18][19]

Mander spent three years in Iraq working with several Private Military Organisations concerned with the protection of Australian diplomats working to re-establish an Iraqi legal system to try Saddam Hussein,[20][21] and was involved in the training of the Iraqi Police.

Mander went on to project-manage the Iraqi Special Police Training Academy in northern Baghdad, where up to 700 cadets at a time received paramilitary training. The Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT) project, made up of multinationals, was part of the US-led coalition's effort to develop the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and its Forces.[22]

Mander also worked alongside the US Army’s Corps of Engineers involved with Iraq's reconstruction efforts as part of Project Matrix. The responsibility was to defend key personnel from assassination, kidnapping, and injury, and to conduct reconnaissance missions across Iraq on key infrastructure in support of the CoE.[23]

Mander left Iraq in 2008 following 12 tours of duty.[24]


In 2009 Mander decided he wanted to escape the death and destruction he had seen in the Middle East. So he travelled throughout South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.[25][26]

Upon learning about the poaching scourge sweeping Southern Africa and the sophisticated criminal networks that used military equipment to poach for large profits, Mander was convinced that his specialised military skills, personal finances, and experience could contribute significantly to wildlife protection and conservation.[27]

Working as a volunteer with an anti-poaching unit in the Zambezi National Park (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe), Mander gained first-hand experience of the struggles associated with anti-poaching work, as well as an up-close look at poaching's decimating effect on wildlife. He began writing training packages that would later form the basis of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation's Anti-Poaching Ranger Training Course and the qualification of Anti-Poaching Ranger.[28]

International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF)[edit]

Using his life savings and funds raised from the liquidation of his investment properties acquired through nine years of military service, Mander founded the International Anti-Poaching Foundation in 2009. He personally funded the start-up and initial running costs, built a ranger training academy at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and bought a two-seater aircraft as well as vehicles for anti-poaching work.[29][30][31]

With the mission statement "To protect and preserve wildlife in volatile regions," the International Anti-Poaching Foundation focuses on ranger training, operations, and integrating modern technology and solutions (such as drone/UAV technology) for conservation.[32]

The foundation aims to provide ranger training free of charge and is funded through public donations, grants, and fundraising activities.[33]

The IAPF has operated in South Africa, Australia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, and is becoming increasingly well known for establishing crack anti-poaching units by putting locals through specialist tactical training programs.[34]

Conservation Guardians[edit]

Mander is a director of Conservation Guardians, an association based out of the Principality of Monaco with the mission to protect and conserve wildlife and bring support to communities.[35]

Technology (UAVs)[edit]

Damien Mander launching a UAV

Mander advocates for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also called drones, to protect endangered wildlife. He and the International Anti-Poaching Foundation’s team of specialists in Australia have developed their fourth generation of unmanned drones, which feature thermal and night-vision technology for use in military-style anti-poaching operations to prevent poachers from killing animals.[36][37][38]

Of the UAV program, Mander has remarked: "Having real-time intelligence greatly increases operational capabilities when reacting to poachers. A UAV can cover in a few hours what a ground team will cover in a week. Conservationists must now be given the capacity to embrace the same technology that is made available to the military."[39]

In the media[edit]

As an outspoken conservationist and animal welfare activist, Mander has been featured in National Geographic, Africa Geographic, 60 Minutes, Animal Planet, Al Jazeera, Voice of America, Forbes, Sunday Times, and Good Weekend Magazine.[40][41][42][43][44]

In May 2013, Mander was invited to make a presentation about the plight of animals in today's society at TEDx Sydney.[45] Titled "Modern Warrior," the 12 1/2-minute speech had more than 232,000 views on YouTube.

Mander is part of the cast and one of the narrators featured in film Unity, a feature-length educational documentary film by Shaun Monson.[46]The subject of the film focuses on humanity’s propensity for apathy and empathy, it is divided into four parts: Body, Mind, Heart and Soul. [47]

IAPF and Mander were featured in first episode of Lone Target, military reality TV series produced by Discovery Channel.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Herald Sun News Article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  2. ^ ABC News Interview, retrieved 2 July 2013
  3. ^ Australia Unlimited article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  4. ^ Rhino UAV Trials, retrieved 2 July 2013
  5. ^ Rhino Rhino UAVs, retrieved 2 July 2013
  6. ^ Africa Geographic UAV article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  7. ^ Herald Sun article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  8. ^ IAPF website News
  9. ^ VOA News article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  10. ^ International Anti-Poaching Foundation website, retrieved 2 July 2013
  11. ^ Africa Geographic UAV article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  12. ^ National Geographic article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  13. ^ The Age article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  14. ^ ABC News interview, retrieved July 2013
  15. ^ Once Upon A Vegan article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  16. ^ Conservation Guardians, retrieved 2 July 2013
  17. ^ The Age article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  18. ^ Africa Media Online article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  19. ^ Africa Geographic UAV article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  20. ^ Sydney Morning Herald article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  21. ^ Conservation Guardians website, retrieved 2 July 2013
  22. ^ Sydney Morning Herald article, 2 July 2013
  23. ^ Aegis Defence Services
  24. ^ 60 Minutes interview, retrieved 2 July 2013
  25. ^ Voice of America news article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  26. ^ Bryan Schatz interview, retrieved 2 July 2013
  27. ^ The Age article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  28. ^ Sydney Morning Herald article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  29. ^ TEDx Sydney Speaker Profile, retrieved 2 July 2013
  30. ^ IAPF Board
  31. ^ Carte Blanche Damien's Rhinos, retrieved 2 July 2013
  32. ^ IAPF website
  33. ^ IAPF website
  34. ^ IAPF website
  35. ^ Conservation Guardians website, retrieved 2 July 2013
  36. ^ Nouse article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  37. ^ IAPF Drones
  38. ^ DIY Drones
  39. ^ Africa Geographic UAV article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  40. ^ TEDx Sydney Speaker Profile, retrieved 2 July 2013
  41. ^ Africa Geographic UAV article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  42. ^ 60 Minutes interview, retrieved 2 July 2013
  43. ^ National Geographic article, retrieved 2 July 2013
  44. ^ IAPF website News
  45. ^ TEDx Sydney Speaker Profile, retrieved 2 July 2013
  46. ^ Unity cast, retrieved 18 September 2012
  47. ^ Unity about, retrieved 18 September 2012

External links[edit]