Last week an old buddy posted a photo album ( on reddit about my organization, the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), and an AMA was requested- so I'm here to take your questions.

My journey: I was a naval special operations sniper in the Australian Defense Force. In 2008 I completed my 12th tour of duty in Iraq as a so-called mercenary, and I felt that there had to be more to life than living out a game of Halo. After traveling around the world, I ended up in Africa. A trip to the bush left me face-to-face with the horrors the world’s wildlife is facing from poaching. I gave up everything my previous life had provided for me and started the IAPF.

IAPF’s mission is conservation through direct action. We aim to stop the hemorrhaging at the front lines of the world wildlife war. We do this by adopting a structured, military–like approach to conservation. This includes using correct levels of force to capture hardened poachers.

Since taking over security operations in Victoria Falls, not one rhino has been poached and the population of critically endangered black rhino has increased by 133% since 2010.

We now run operations covering more than 1 million acres and have supported 28 other initiatives. With your support, we can shift it up a few gears.

I have gotten a private donor to match donations made over the next few days so that up to a total of $10k will be matched. This will help us support rangers at ground level along the South Africa/ Mozambique border who are fighting to protect the world’s largest remaining rhino population. AND You asked for us to accept bitcoin reddit, so we listened.

If you'd like to support the war against poaching, please click here: (

Go ahead and ask me anything! I’ll be here for as long as it takes to answer your questions, or until the beer runs out, whatever comes first!


Verification Tweet:

Edit: formatting/verification link

Im not going anywhere guys..just getting warmed up!! Please if you have a moment, please sign up to our newsletter:

Edit: Photo album I made of our conservation efforts for you guys and my time in the military

Edit: Everybody, it has really been a pleasure talking to you all. After 6 hours, I need to get some sleep, as I'm heading off in the morning. I will update you on the amount of funding you have all helped raise through this AmA - then we can go and spend it together fighting rhino poaching.

If you would like to support, then please head to:

Cheers everyone.

UPDATE: Hello everyone. Im writing from the border of Mozambique/South Africa. The money raised so far by this AmA is over $20,000! Couple that with the $10k that was matched and we are at $30,000 and growing!! This is amazing. I spent yesterday and soon today in meetings with our team on the ground planning the implementation of these resources. We have already handed over some satellite communications equipment which was desperately needed. Much more to come because of all of you, so thank-you!! This will result in the direct capture/arrest of rhino poachers who are rampant in the area. I hope you guys are enjoying anti-poaching! Thank-you. You all rock! Check out our thank-you post

I promise to keep answering your questions when I'm close to an internet connection so keep them coming. Stay tuned!

Comments: 2298 • Responses: 51  • Date: 

Cho-Chang1527 karma

Hi Damien. Where do I sign up?

damienmander1041 karma

FrodoTheHobo957 karma

Sorry guys;

Will I be armed?

NO. Although every IAPF patrol with Green Army members goes out armed, you will definitely not be allowed to carry or use a weapon. Both South Africa and Zimbabwe have stringent weapons laws and foreigners are strictly forbidden to carry arms.

damienmander857 karma

We get enquiries everyday from people from all walks of life. Some have varying levels of experience in the military or law enforcement and want to be involved with anti-poaching. Many people approach us wanting a paid position or even to freely volunteer their services to work in the bush.

The job of a ranger is a front-line role, but the front-lines of the African bush are vastly different to the streets of Baghdad, the tall buildings of New York or the beaches of Australia. One of the biggest threats a rangers faces is the wildlife they aim to protect. We have a duty of care for you when you are here. From poachers, wildlife and the wrong side of the law.

To be in the bush you must be accompanied by a professionally trained guide. You are not allowed to carry a firearm unless you have the relevant qualifications (in that particular country), a work permit and security clearance. This process can take up to 2 years depending on the country. If you do so without the relevant documents you are liable to prosecution and we would lose our ability to operate.

Tonnac83 karma

Hi, I tried to find out how large the comtribution required to sign up is through your site but couldn't figure it out. Can you tell us more about that?

damienmander223 karma

It works out to less than $100 a day, which is far less than any safari you would get in most of Southern Africa. The wages we pay our rangers comes from donations. A wage for a ranger in Southern Africa is between $100 and $500 per month depending on the position.

To have volunteers with us we need to have a professional guide, accommodation, transport, insurance, extra equipment and personnel to look after your stay. To recoup these costs and ensure your stay is productive we ask for a mandated donation at a set weekly rate. This ensures that we are not out of pocket and the stay actually benefits the cause. So many people just want to come out and do the fun job of running around in the bush. Running the IAPF is a tough job with lots of administration involved.

Some volunteers in the past have gone on to work with us, and we have found the volunteer program is the best way to screen people whilst contributing to their experience and the cause at the same time.

Switch4655 karma

Ok, because I was wondering the same thing. Might be a good idea to give a rough estimate on the site for a set time period.

On a different note I was rooting for you guys during the Lone Target show. I have seen first hand how amazing those trackers are.

damienmander46 karma

Thanks a lot man

Maeegggi28 karma

What about people who would like an extended stay, somewhere around 3-4 months? I assume its a bit cheaper.

I understand if you do not want to answer this question, but I'm serious about committing next summer to volunteering for your organization. But upwards of $9000 is giving me a bit of sticker shock.

damienmander38 karma

If you email the Corey and James whose details are in the pack, then they will be able to assist with these enquiries. Longer stays can be discussed, depending on what skills and experience the person has. Hope to see you out here.

tamammothchuk1329 karma

What is the typical mentality of a poacher, in your experience - hardened? Desperate? Greedy? Are they the typical bad guy that it's tough to empathize with or not?

damienmander2340 karma

Like any criminal, it depends on the person and the crime they commit. Some people are genuinely just trying survive. Others, it would be like robbing banks to put food on the table. Some of these commercial poachers are extremely wealthy, and more is just not enough.

We have actually retrained convicted poachers and once you can convince them that looking after wildlife is more beneficial than killing it, they make great rangers.

NecroJack588 karma

According to what you have experienced really how 'big' is the poaching threat?

damienmander1454 karma

G'day NJ: The illegal trafficking of wildlife is one of the largest criminal industries in the world. Its up there with guns, drugs and human trafficking. The issue is, that when weighed against all the humanitarian causes out there, the plight of animals and the environment is barely heard. We are not asking for a complete switch and everyone to start totally supporting environmental issues. that would be unrealistic. All we want is balance, and for people to realise that when we fuck the planet, then, we are all pretty much fucked. And that is our generations legacy.

NecroJack366 karma

Thanks for the reply. I stay in South Africa and have noticed a considerable drop in the promotion of the plight of rhino compared to say 2 years ago. Its bleak.

damienmander568 karma

There is serious fatigue amongst the general public from hearing about rhino related issues. It is a big problem, but it butts heads with many other problems at ground level.

McArty582 karma

Hello, serious question here. Have been reading about your organisation and read there is also work for volunteers. Which specific skils are required to come and help with the 'green army'? for example i'm a 24 year old student from Belgium with no specific experience. If i would/could want to join , what would be my tasks?

damienmander559 karma

McArty, cheers mate. Here is a link to everything about the Green Army, and the people from all over the world who join us on the ground in Africa fighting poachers.

McArty277 karma

Thx man! I'll definitely look into it. Forgot to mention, huge fan of your initiative! Incredible that there do are people willing to risk their own life instead of just talking about it. As soon as my wallet allows it I'll support too.

damienmander265 karma

cheers brother

Phillyfan10547 karma

First of all good for you! THose animals need people like you for protection. Is it legal for you to shoot at poachers just for shooting animals?

damienmander869 karma

Zimbabwe has a shoot on site policy for armed poachers. South Africa and Mozambique are a little different. IAPF takes the approach of training rangers in the correct escalation in the use of force. Much like any western law enforcement model, it means the minimum amount of force is used to get the job done. It does not mean to say that if lethal force is needed, it cannot be used. Well training rangers actually save human lives as well as wildlife. Cheers P

JustKSA413 karma

I imagine that you present quite a formidable deterrent and that these people aren't looking for a gunfight, but nonetheless, they are operating illegally and you pose a threat to their freedom and livelihood...SO...Beyond the threat to protected animals, do these poachers typically display armed resistance against anti-poaching efforts? I

TL;DR: Do these assholes shoot at you?

damienmander756 karma

Cheers mate. Rangers are often hunted by poachers. The stakes are that high. In Kruger National Park, they have had to deploy the South African Special Forces the problem is that bad. This is a war. People on both sides are being killed. Bullets travel in both directions and they are not biased. And the situation is not improving.

US_Ranger342 karma

Yo Damien. I did an AMA awhile back about doing anti-poaching work in Zambia. I spent some time in Victoria Falls/Livingstone as well, amazing place. I was a US army ranger and did quite a few patrols out in the bush looking for the same people you're going after. Do you need any more boots on the ground out there?

damienmander233 karma

Awesome mate. I heard about the AMA, but I cant find it. Can you post the link please? Also, can you contact me through the website and we can talk. Cheers bud.

altevolo250 karma

What do you see as the greatest threat to African wildlife?

damienmander464 karma

The greatest threat to Africa wildlife I believe is human encroachment into wilderness areas. The United Nations Population Division projects Africa's number of human inhabitants will double to 2 billion by 2040. I have little confidence that we can mobilise the hearts and minds of a continent, with a common mindset of immediacy, that the long-term preservation of wildlife, is more beneficial than food on the table tonight. Couple this with a common lack of sufficient political will to save wildlife and we have a recipe for extreme challenge.

This problem is not isolated to Africa though, which I think we all understand.

skywaterblue125 karma

It's hard to deny food, shelter and a standard of living to people, though. A follow-up: what are some steps you think could be taken to mitigate this while improving quality of life for Africans?

damienmander248 karma

Increasing pressure on the world’s natural assets is simply not sustainable. We understand the big picture, but also understand where we fit in, and that is stopping the hemorrhaging of these resources at the front-lines of the World Wildlife War. In doing this, we work alongside organisations that specialise in working with communities, so progress is made in parallel.

Subsistence poachers are the small scale people trying to put food on the table. Our gearing is towards stopping militarised poachers who hunt high target species such as rhino and elephant.

WCUJason231 karma

Damien, what you are doing is amazing! Have you found local governments to be supportive of your work, or are you met with resistance?

damienmander300 karma

It ebbs and it flows. Some projects you have support with the departments you need, others it takes time. A decision in Africa can be so hard to get, and that is what makes it so valuable.

We were approached by Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority to take over and manage Chizarira National Park for 25 years in 2011. We purchased a lodge and concession adjoining Chiz and completed the feasibility study and management plans. We were really looking forward to a solid, long-standing project using a good network of people who had pledged their support, both financial and technical.

Then this article was released in March 2012:

Soon after it ran front pages in Zimbabwe and that really put a wet blanket on that project.

Things can come from left field. You just need to stay committed, and remember what you are there for.

moosemoomintoog158 karma

Do you believe that drones will be a solution to the poaching problem or will the demand for horns drive the poachers to find new methods?

damienmander221 karma

This is from an article I had published in Africa Geographic Magazine:

1: We have joined the race to implement the technology into conservation that has revolutionized the way things are done on the regular battlefield. We are entering the Drone Age. In the past decade, a trillion-dollar mobile phone industry has made technology previously reserved for the military now accessible for civilian application. Riding on the coattails of this revolution, we do our best to gain momentum for the use of advanced technology in conservation. “Pilotless aircraft have changed fighting much as night-vision technology did in the 1980s and 1990s,” stated Col. John Burke, project manager for the Army’s UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) program back in 2006. “It’s very seldom that you see a revolution in warfare like this.”

The drones we are using are small in comparison to a Predator UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) that routinely patrols the skies anywhere the United States has an interest in. But it has a purpose. It’s a great example of what technology should be: smaller, lighter, easier to function, sophisticated, and cheaper. Gyroscopes, which measure rates of rotation; magnetometers, which act as digital compasses; pressure sensors, which measure atmospheric pressure to calculate altitude; accelerometers, to measure the force of gravity – all the capabilities of these technologies are now embedded in tiny chips that you can buy at an electrical store. Global Positioning Systems which cost tens of thousands of dollars in the 90s are now a thumbnail-size device and cost as little as $10.

Drones allow us to have eyes on the target, to see things out in front of us, and in places we don’t have the resources to get to. Previously we would walk around, waiting to bump into something. Now, we peek over the horizon. The drone can provide day or night aerial intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance. Real-time intelligence is everything in an operational environment. Having this far exceeds locating a two-day old footprint, or worse still, the mutilated carcass of an animal. Having the resources to follow up on intelligence is critical too. If we can cover with a drone in a few hours what a ground team covers in a week, why not extract some of the rangers from the field? They can then be trained as a specialist reaction unit and on constant standby to respond to real-time intelligence. Doubling your manpower in Africa doesn’t always solve the problem – it often increases it. The drone is a tool that can reduce deployed manpower in the field.

2: Drones deserve a very healthy degree of scepticism. They are not a silver bullet, rather a tool in the box for conservationists. It is how you use that tool that counts. Poachers will always evolve, and we must continue to do so also.

Thanks Moose!!

Squago119138 karma

Could you tell us about one of your best encounters? (I.e, where you were at the time, what the mission was, how you found the poachers, what animals you saved in that moment). Thanks for the AMA! I too, believe that poaching is an underrated problem.

damienmander428 karma

We were once trying to ambush some poachers at night who we knew were coming through the fence in an exact spot. We had already captured one of their crew earlier that day....and 'extracted' a lot of information. We knew the rest would be back and we knew they were heavily armed. Lying there, I was just staring at this one spot in the fence, which is totally amateurish. Situational awareness is paramount when on operations. But this one was in the bag man! Anyway, all hell broke loose when I looked over my shoulder to see a lioness and three adolescent cubs only 3 meters away hunting us! We fired a shot in the air, and basically crawled over the top of each other to get away. I climbed up a tree. When the dust settled, I could hear my rangers laughing. Turns out the branch I was on was only a foot of the ground. I still can’t convince my rangers that growing up with kangaroos and possums does not prepare you for Africa

RealRoaminRabbitt98 karma

Hi Damien, I've been following your progress since last year and I have great appreciation for what you are doing. I spent about half of last year on the SA-Zim border working with an anti-poaching unit with an isolated number of white rhinos and elephants on 16,500 hectares just outside of Musina, ZA. I quit my fancy job in the states and went out there, and I got hooked. I am looking to get back out to Africa to get back to helping however I can (mostly served as driver for our unit and spotting via helicopter owned by the grounds), but will happily do whatever. Can you tell me if you know of any ways I can get more involved beyond just the standard means of donations? I am looking for a way to get myself back out there and be able to sustain for an extended period of time. I've got great admiration and envy for what you're doing there day to day. I've seen how brutal the situation really can be. It was heartbreaking arriving on neighboring farms to find a dead rhino with the horn so brutally torn from its head...


damienmander67 karma

Thanks RRR. Mate, drop me an email through the website and I'm happy to discuss. Thanks for the dedication.

devoting_my_time95 karma

Heya Damien, I have a few questions, mainly about the poachers themselves:

What happens to the poachers if/when you catch them?

Do the poachers surrender to you Rangers, or do they fight you?

Where do the poaches come from? Do they come from the country itself, or do you also see poachers from outside the country?

damienmander145 karma

G'day DMT,

Depending on the crime the poacher has committed, they will be taken to a police station and charged under local laws.

Sometimes they surrender, sometimes they fight. Many have everything to lose, some nothing.

We have noticed that many poachers are crossing international borders to take down animals such as elephants and rhino. But, they are also locally based too. It is often a mixture, and sometimes their heritage does not recognise colonial borders that have separated them.



damienmander38 karma

Hello brother! Sorry for the delay. Poachers, like many rangers are at one with the bush. They operate in dangerous, dense wildlife filled regions like a billionaire hedge fund suit functions on Wall St. They are at home. Tactics come naturally. Many are also ex military.

There are quite a few threads earlier on in regards to volunteering, and eventually working with IAPF. I hope that helps. Cheers man and stay safe.

Lol_jk_Omg92 karma

How many beers do you have?

Seriously, thank you for doing this. And after donating, what else can we do to help?

damienmander139 karma

I have enough beers to keep me hydrated into the night. It's 1800 here on a Saturday evening in southern Africa.

Just being aware of the situation of poaching is great start. The environmental struggle across the world is going to require conscious choices from all of us in order to have a positive impact.

To help the IAPF, we have a website at On there is a wish list, which really helps the guys on the ground.



damienmander59 karma


fokofpolisiekar25 karma

I imagine your'e enjoying a nice Saturday evening braai and a few well earned Castle lagers? You are doing good work here mate!

damienmander24 karma

Yep, back off to Mozambique in the morning.

fsudhb0569 karma

I can't really tell you how much I appreciate what you're doing and it gives me hope that there are people out there willing to help make a change but to my question...what do you think the best way is for non-special forces trained people to make a serious, direct impact on poaching? I sometimes dream of moving to Africa and destroying poachers, but as a regular guy I don't think that would work out the way it does in my poacher-slaying fantasies. :(

damienmander71 karma

Thanks mate, it is the positive comments that keep you motivated when sometimes so much is stacked against you.

It is a really hard field to crack over here actually, and why so many people end up going home. A good way to get a taste is to find a wildlife course, or come and join our Green Army program in Zimbabwe.

reddog32320 karma

It sounds like you've gained a lot of traction on local poaching. What would it take to use your program as a training template for other areas?

damienmander37 karma

Reddog - In January 2013, the qualification and career path of Anti-Poaching Ranger was proposed to the industry by IAPF. This is a para-military career path for rangers. Initial consultation into the requirements of such a qualification was carried out in early 2013. Requests to participate have been received from 58 industry leaders representing 23 countries. The initiative is bringing together key thinkers on anti-poaching, law enforcement, communities, intelligence, education and technology to develop the qualification and curriculum. This is taking place online and at workshops in South Africa. There are 6 more scheduled for 2014, following lasts weeks meeting.

South Africa was chosen as the most practical place to develop the qualification for local, then international use. Four workshops have already taken place in South Africa to develop this qualification with the next scheduled for June 2014 in a joint workshop hosted by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) and Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality, Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA). The subsequent curriculum and learning tools will be developed after the qualification has completed the profiling process. It will then be shared in a controlled manner in order to benefit the worlds protected areas and their high target species – in principle, all species. The content of various courses will be developed in order to meet the requirements of different landscapes across the world. Managers will be able to craft their own courses from the material available to suit those requirements.

ugadai52 karma

What do you think of the whole horn farming thing where they hack off part of the horn to sell and wait for the rhino to regrow it? Is it as humane as they say and is it a viable alternative that will make give the poachers an economic reason to stop?

damienmander96 karma

I actually went to Vietnam and lived with a traditional healer so i could get an insight into the Asian market and their mindset. I wrote this report which goes over the whole take on trade/no trade.

MagikHat52 karma

Wow I remember seeing this from last week. Thanks for this AMA! I thought the drone idea was incredible! Was that your idea or someone else's?

damienmander98 karma


We are simply trying to give those that defend nature a fair chance.

Many answers for this war sit in military warehouses around the world collecting dust. The conservation industry struggles along, trying to replicate technology that was superseded decades ago. The right budgets, training, technology and systems can protect what remains – if only they could be accessed.

Soldiers are respected for putting the security of their home nations ahead of their personal safety. Yet, when we advocate a strong-armed defense of nature, somehow we are often deemed too militant. Rangers are dying. Animals are dying. Can we afford to ignore the important contributions that military tactics and technologies can bring to conservation, when those same components are being employed by criminals and poachers to destroy nature?

Drones are not a new thing. They have been accessible to the military for decades.

CTGardener34 karma

Your TED talk is one of my favorites ever, and I appreciate the light you bring to this important topic. Where do you stand on trade and why?

damienmander55 karma

Thank-you CTG. That TEDx talk is here for the rest of the guys tuned in:

My position on trade is here:

xfore31 karma

What was the most exciting experience you've been through?

damienmander94 karma

I watched Ratsta Mouse with my one year old son this evening. I love that show!

Second to that would be landing in Iraq for the first time.

ZackFrost31 karma

Hey Damien, huge fan here. What advice would you have for a high school student who wants to get involved in your line of work?

damienmander50 karma

Study the situation as much as you can. Learn all angles and see where you are going to be best suited. Go and get an education that will be suitable for dealing with the part of the problem you have isolated.

For me, it was a matter of putting the cart before the horse. I had military skills, which were useful later in life in the conservation industry.

Skarx25 karma

Hi, I saw the post last week about your organisation. Thanks for the great job you've done, and keep on doing it. In regards of your volunteer program, can a guy with a job can take 2 weeks of holiday to come and help you ? Or does it require more time ?

Thanks ! And sorry for my english, sometimes I'm bad at it

damienmander34 karma

For sure. The average stay is between 2-4 weeks. Some stay for months. It is designed to let people from around the world come and have an active part in combatting wildlife crime.

duh_metrius22 karma

I saw a report on the poaching situation in Africa recently, and it included some horrific video of poachers chopping a Rhino's horn off with an ax, leaving the the animal brutally mutilated, bloodied, and alive. Seeing that animal wake up with a gaping hole in it's head, trembling in pain, is seared in my memory.

Within that report, there was mention of farms in Africa as well as the South Pacific, where Rhino's are kept in captivity so they can be tranquilized, their horns sawed off, and then they are free to roam the farm in safety while the horns grow back. This is to help meet the massive demand for Rhino horn and hopefully make poaching less profitable. What is your opinion of this practice?

damienmander29 karma

You can get some more background information into this in the 60 Minutes feature of IAPF:

Also, my opinion on taking horns off rhinos, and perhaps saving them in the process:

And a picture of us dehorning a rhino:


Its sad, but better than finding them in a pool of blood.

UK-Redditor20 karma

Hi Damien, regarding your rangers, how do you normally recruit volunteers and what can you tell us about the training programme?

Other than funds, what are the biggest obstacles you're having to face and is there anything more the international community can do to offer help & support?

Incredible job you're doing mate, keep up the good work.

damienmander38 karma

Thanks to the UK: Volunteers for the Green army simply apply, and then come out and join us. The pack outlines some of the work that is carried out by volunteers.

As for our rangers, they learn many different skills. A course can be made up of the following:

  1. Concepts and Principles of Nature Conservation
  2. Basic Ecology
  3. Introduction to Wildlife Management
  4. Conservation Education
  5. Protected Area Laws and Regulations
  6. Anti-Poaching Capabilities and Limitations
  7. Court Procedures
  8. Selection
  9. Physical Training
  10. Drill and Discipline
  11. Ethics and Values
  12. OPSEC-Operational Security
  13. First Aid
  14. Evacuation Procedures
  15. Firearms and Ballistics
  16. Marksmanship
  17. Communications
  18. Hand Signals
  19. Statement and Reports
  20. Scene of Crime
  21. Arresting Procedures
  22. Continuum of Force
  23. Combatives
  24. Urban Operations & Close Quarter Battle
  25. Field Craft
  26. Tracking
  27. Orienteering and Navigation
  28. Mission Planning and Orders
  29. Patrolling
  30. Ambush and Counter Ambush
  31. Contact Drills
  32. Observation & Listening Posts
  33. Temporary Bases
  34. Quick Reaction Force / Raids
  35. Night Operations
  36. Vehicle Check Points (VCP’s)
  37. Intelligence Gathering & Informer Networks
  38. Psychological Operations (PSYOPS)
  39. Off-Road Driving
  40. Watercraft Familiarization and Use
  41. Aerial Support and Collaboration (Fixed & Rotary Wing/ Manned & Unmanned)
  42. Equipment Maintenance
  43. Joint Operations
  44. Crisis Management
  45. COIN-Counter Insurgence
  46. Surveillance and Reconnaissance Operations
  47. Support of Domestic Animals: Canine and Horse Mounted

mindzipper19 karma

I contribute to numerous rescue organizations and rehabilitaion facilities in South Africa hoping to protect chimpanzees and Gorillas.

Do you do any work of that type? I believe the chimpanzees will get past this, but I don't feel the same luck will befall the lowland mountain gorillas, and poaching is what's killing them.

Do you follow that at all?

and so many huge kudos to you, i do puny rescue work locally for cats, and I wish so badly I had the finances to pull up stakes and move to south africa and work at the Jane Goodall Institute. Or even go to nyaru menteng and work on conservation efforts with the orangutans who are also near extinction, and even though poaching to steal babies to sell (for over $30,000) is a big drive, the palm oil plantations are the biggest enemy.

I'm curious if you do any work for the great apes.

damienmander11 karma

I spoke at the UN Great Apes Survival Summit in Jackson Hole last year:

And Dr Jane Goodall site on our Advisory Board.

Thank-you for what you do protecting animals back home. If you didn't do that, who would? Please keep going.

Eecrets19 karma

How common occurrence is the poaching?

damienmander51 karma

Right now animals are being killed all over the world every second. Since this conversation started 8 elephants would have been murdered for their ivory.

omnidot13 karma

Do you think this militaristic conservation style should be applied to the whaling industry?

damienmander51 karma

We must operate within the laws, but also push those boundaries within reason. A militaristic approach does not necessarily mean guns and cannons. It could mean better intelligence, well trained ranges/sailors, access to thermal imaging and night vision equipment, drones etc. So, in that respect, yes, it should be, but within the law.

PippyLongSausage11 karma

Do you have a cousin named Calvin by any chance? A guy I met was telling me a semi believable story strikingly similar to yours.

damienmander72 karma

My last name used to be Klein and I had an identical twin. That could be him. Prick, was always trying to look like me...

suckingpancakes10 karma

Hi Damien! This will probably seem like a silly question, but in your pictures, you guys are right next to the rhinos. Don't they ever get aggressive?

damienmander13 karma

They can change at a moments notice. Some of the rhinos get habituated to humans in a limited way, because we guard them so closely. Similar to the gorillas in the Congo.

ProudHeathen10 karma

Many people want to help this effort aside from donating money. What alternative options are there for people who want to protect endangered animals like elephants and rhinos?

What kind of people are these organizations looking for?

damienmander28 karma

I call this a World Wildlife War. Wars take front line troops to fight the battles, but, they cannot exist without the huge logistical machine of support in the background. These are the volunteers, donors, supporters and activists around the world who play a vital role in keeping the IAPF going.

There is a long list here of ways to help, or even hosting small fundraisers in your local community.

pas468 karma

Hi Damien, thank you for the work that you and others do. I have a direct question. Have you ever approached any security industry companies for funding or equipment? You could possibly sell them on the PR value. I know they have particular business models, but as I said, it might be worth the approach, even for free second hand equipment.

damienmander24 karma

Hello, we have worked with a number of companies and actually in discussions with a USA company and it sounds promising.

"Damien -

I just watched your TED talk and visited the website. We may be able to help. I run a US based Tactical Gear distributor and integrator of military and LE gear. Please have a look at our website and let me know if you are interested in some help. I am interested in hearing what your specific needs are and opening a dialogue.

Thanks,, JBB

Jon B. Becker CEO and President Aardvark"

thehost1236 karma

Thanks for doing this! One question:

What got you into this?

damienmander7 karma

In 2008 I left Iraq for good after 3 years of duty in the ‘Sandpit’. I had saved and invested considerably and could afford not to work for the foreseeable future, and that was the plan. Eager for adventure, I’d heard about the work of anti-poaching units some years earlier and earmarked it for a 6-month tour. I arrived in Africa at the beginning of 2009 aged 29. It was in Zimbabwe where the purpose of my journey through life really hit home. I was face-to-face with the harsh reality of rangers on the front line, with little resources, trying to defend a global treasure from a determined enemy. It was not something I could ever turn my back on. I grit my teeth, liquidated my assets and set up the International Anti-Poaching Foundation.

The seed for my frustration that would lead to the start of the IAPF was watching underpaid and underappreciated rangers sent out on missions in harms way. Before I set out on my first patrol in Zimbabwe, I knew already what was needed to win the battles these rangers faced on a daily basis. It’s not a hard one to pinpoint - Training, equipment, mentoring, institutional support and persistence.

sentineln5 karma

How many poachers have you killed so far?

damienmander142 karma

G'day everyone, thanks for having me on AMA. It's really cool to be here with you. I really want to try and help convey the plight of wildlife here today.

In regards to killing poachers, I’m settled enough I think these these days to not be in the position of potentially shooting poachers. I’m a foreigner, in a far away place. We have too much work to do and I don’t have a spare 10 years to be sitting in jail counting notches on the stock of my rifle. There are laws and systems in place in Africa, and they don’t accommodate vigilantes who are chasing shits and giggles. Conservation is serious business and it requires a serious approach. Rangers do carry guns, sometimes they shoot, and sometimes they are shot. Dead bodies are not a ruler for success. Animals not being killed are the yardstick we use.

islandsimian4 karma

Damien - great work you're doing. You are definitely the front line when it comes to protecting these great animals, but are you just forcing the poachers to another location or are you actually reducing the number of poaching incidents?

damienmander6 karma

Very good point. Many times, we do just force the problem elsewhere. We are just trying to hold back the tide with our bare hands. Research, conservation, sustainable utilisation of natural resources, tourism and game farming all falls back to one of the least appreciated groups of people in the world – rangers. Without these people doing their jobs successfully there is nothing and there will be nothing. Rangers are under attack by an increasingly sophisticated and determined poacher. Do we depend on the age-old cliché of ‘winning the hearts and minds’, a phrase which so easily rolls off the tongue, yet which so few can actually achieve, or do we train and equip these rangers to try and have the upper hand and hold on to what we have left. I know this is not THE solution, but it is part of A solution. It does reduce poaching, but in reality, we are just trying to hold on to what we have, while the world scrambles for solutions.

damienmander6 karma

I cut half of that response from a letter I had to write recently. I thought it was very relevant to a very good question. Thank-you.

Timid_One3 karma

So what would you suggest to people who might consider volunteering?

damienmander3 karma

Have a good read through the pack and then fire questions through to the coordinator.

201894514203 karma

I wanted to join the special forces but didn't make it through the medical examination because of my eyes (lacking stereosight). Could you tell me what the most important lessons were you learned by joining and serving in an elite outfit?

I am really happy to see you use your skills for such a good cause! I'll make sure to follow and support it! Cheers!

damienmander9 karma

Serving within illite units was a very rare experience for me. The trust you build in those units is hard to find anywhere else. Everything is on a knifes edge, and in a way, it is pretty fun. Here's a pic of our old unit: Imgur

The best piece of advice I was given: "Don't fuck it up".

We tried to stick to that, but it didn't always work. The best lesson I had, was if you fail at something, and you really want it, then you haven't failed. It is just a minor setback.

UOENObro2 karma

Why is it I can sign up for a guided African elephant hunt?

damienmander4 karma

Hunting is legal in many Souther Africa countries.

Umlaut692 karma

I was really sad to hear of the poachers that killed Satao.

That stuff just makes me sick.

Is there any chance these people will be caught, and how badly will you beat them when you do?

damienmander3 karma

Yes, it was, he was an icon. Sadly, majestic animals like that are going to become rarer and rarer.

I'm not sure if they will be caught, but if they were by IAPF, they would be subject to what is lawful only. We teach the guys human rights as one of the first lessons.