Leader of IAPF’s “Green Army”
There is a war happening right now. Blood has been spilt and the death tolls are rising. This war, is the battle against poaching, and the situation has never been more desperate than at present. Rhinos and elephants are being slaughtered for their horns to be turned into ivory carvings, knife handles, and false medicines. Animals are being captured from the wild to be turned into pets, and top predators are being poisoned or hunted down to eliminate their presence near the ever encroaching human developments. Few are prepared to fight in this cause against the ever bolder poachers, now armed with AK-47s and other high powered weapons. The front line is being pushed back, and the enemy is gaining ground.
One person who is not willing to let this happen is Damien Mander, CEO and founder of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation. The IAPF is located in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, an area well known for its magnificent wildlife and spectacular scenery.
No one knows the plight of these animals better, nor is more qualified than Mander who is a former Australian military veteran, serving as a Navy diver and later as an Army Commando in Iraq. His love of wildlife along with his vast experience in the armed forces makes him the perfect leader for his “green army” of anti-poaching rangers.
Along with IAPF’s daily patrols, their other initiatives include school group education on wildlife importance and a free Ranger training academy where the perspective wildlife warriors are trained in all aspects of counter-poaching including unarmed combat, tracking, arresting procedures, evidence gathering, and rifle training during their twelve week program.
The IAPF was funded by Mander’s own finances after he sold nearly everything he owned in a huge sacrifice to deliver these animals in peril from the threat of extinction. He is a true wildlife hero, fighting on the front lines of this war on wildlife trafficking and poaching, which is now the third largest criminal trade in the world.
Animals like rhinos are sensitive creatures and “Female rhinos that lose their calves to poachers go through a period of mourning, in which they will frequently return to their dead calf’s carcass.” says the IAPF’s website. Poachers know this, and will use it to their advantage, killing the mother when she returns to her young calf, thus taking yet another special creature from this earth.
Mander’s ultimate goal is to have thousands of troops protecting wildlife throughout southern Africa. His “Green Army” will be patrolling day and night, fighting back against the war on poaching. There is no question that he had made a difference and will hopefully continue gaining ground against the poachers for the wildlife and for Africa!
Here are some additional resources to find out more about IAPF and Africa’s poaching crisis.
IAPF video promo:
Damien Mander of IAPF on 60 minutes: