Thank you all for an amazing marathon session. There is some really good dialog and information within this thread for any latecomers. All up with matched funding we have managed to raise almost US$25,000. This will go towards expanding our operations and hiring more rangers. Thank you all so much. From Zimbabwe, signing out, Damien

My journey:

I began my career in the Australian Royal Navy and later worked as a special operations sniper in the Australian Defense Force. I then moved on to the private sector in Iraq, where I was training men who, faced with the harsh reality of the front line, would either desert, join the militia or be killed.

On a trip to Southern Africa, I was shocked at the continuous slaughter of rhinos and elephants. Populations of these beautiful animals were suffering a 40% loss, mostly due to poaching for illegal ivory trade.

Inspired by this I founded the International Anti-Poaching Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to defending at-risk wildlife.

Some context:

Back in 2014, thanks to your help we made history with an AMA. We raised money to support the front lines of the war against Rhino poaching.

This was along the South African/Mozambique border, where a third of the worlds rhino’s live. In the coming months, we were able to reduce incursions of rhino poachers through our area of operation and into the largest rhino population on earth by over 90%.

A great joint effort which we are, and you should be proud of. Thank you.

While this was an invaluable weapon in our battle, a direct war on poaching is only part of the equation needed to help protect these endangered species in the longterm.

We learned something important:

In order to sustain conservation efforts successfully, you need to win the hearts and minds of the local community.

This realization led us to create a very special project: Akashinga…

Akashinga (meaning the ‘Brave Ones’) is an all-female ranger unit patrolling, conducting raids and arrests on known poachers, and helping to protect an area of 230,000 acres. They work with the local community to prevent wildlife crime, and watch over the growing wildlife populations of the lower Zambezi region of Zimbabwe.

You can find out more about how the Akashinga team did this in this Imgur album.

But here’s what’s even more incredible about Akashinga’s members...

All the ranger women have troubled pasts. They were all either survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, single mothers, abandoned wives, or are AIDS orphans.

These women are heroes, and have been recognized as such by the Zimbabwe International Women’s Awards 2018 and celebrated on 60 Minutes and BBC World News.

Our goal and how you can help...

We need to hire more women and create a new task force to patrol this reserve! (You guys can name it!) We have several donors willing to match your donations up to $35,000 during this AMA to make this task force happen!

If you’re able to donate $25 or more to help these incredible women protect these beautiful endangered animals, we’ll send you a pack of these sweet limited edition IAPF/Reddit stickers as a token of thanks for your support.

You can donate here: https://www.iapf.org/reddit/

More importantly, you’ll also know that your generosity has helped make a difference to both a community of women fighting to regain their independence and dignity, and also to the rhinos and elephants who are being illegally poached.

Also joining me...

For our AMA today I will be joined by Nyaradzo Hoto. Nyaradzo helps lead Akashinga operations. She is a divorced 26-year old woman from Hurungwe. She has a 6-year old daughter, Tariro.

“My marriage was so difficult for me because my former husband was so abusive. I was jobless for a long time, life was so tough. I started working last year in August as a ranger of Akashinga and have managed to turn my life around.”

You can read more about Nyaradzo and about the Akashinga project here.

We choose today, Giving Tuesday, to do our AMA with you guys.

If you'd like to give support IAPF and the Akashinga project, thank you! Please click here: https://www.iapf.org/reddit/

P.S. You can also donate with crypto :)

Now, go ahead and ask me or Nyaradzo anything! Last time it was a super fun 6 hours and I’m ready for some awesome fun together again.

Damien Mander

If you only had one shot at life, what would you do with it?

Verification:

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Edit - formatting and verification links

Edit - Nyaradzo is off to bed - if you have questions for her we'll get them answered tomorrow. I am still here answering all your questions tho! :D

Comments: 844 • Responses: 117  • Date: 

I_Am_Ashtryian585 karma

This is great, my question to you: why is the team all female? I’m just curious.

damienmander820 karma

I just put a really detailed response to that question below. I'll repost if you like? We were really militarised in how we went about our operations. It worked, but we were constantly at war with the local population. On a continent that will have 2 billion people by 2040, we had to find a way to make conservation work with communities, not against. Women I believe are the bridge that conservation had to build into these communities. We no longer have an anti-poaching unit - we have a community that believes in what we are doing because the women form such good relationships with them and we work as one. These communities will decide the future of conservation, but more guns and bigger fences.

I_Am_Ashtryian142 karma

Thank you for your answer! Are you planning on keeping it female only, apart from yourself, or opening the doors to male employees as well, while keeping the focus that women should be a part of this endeavor as well?

damienmander361 karma

They run their own show now. We bring in male instructors and specialists to continue their training. Im in Harare at the moment. 4 hours away from them. I head up there in a few days to spend some more time with them. We do need to keep their training going. Women have not been given the same opportunities as men in conservation and so there is a lot of work to do in building them up from ground level to be ready for leadership positions where they need to make life of death decisions in a hostile environment. For now, the model of female leadership and protection is working extremely well. We will continue to bring in male and female specialists to support the team and its expansion as required.

rawilks73 karma

This sounds less like a need for an all female unit and more like a need to better train all of the personel to get along with the community better.

damienmander396 karma

With women we have not seen corruption. Previously we would recruit men from around the country and bring them in so they are not influenced by the local population they grew up with. This dispersed all our expenditure. The no corruption factor with women allows us to recruit 100% from the local community. This turns law enforcement spending (the biggest line item in conservation) into a community investment. 62% of our funding now goes into the community with 80% of that at household level. Women have a natural relationship with the community they grew up with, not a conflict.

damienmander181 karma

Ultimately, men often want to fight, women want to converse. This deescalates, and when we deescalate in law enforcement it is a much cheaper solution. We don't need helicopters and more guns. The women are having conversations instead.

MoistMuffin69378 karma

How often does the fast force engage with poachers?

damienmander787 karma

Thank you for the question. The team has made 80 arrests in the past 15 months. Unprecedented results. I put it town to how good they are at collecting information. Around 3% of crimes that are solved globally are done so by catching criminals in the act. The other 97% are solved through intelligence led operations. Its no different in anti-poaching, when criminals are trying to kill elephants. Catching them requires information. As women, they are totally plugged into the verbal communications network of rural society. They are the backbone of it (that’s a polite way of saying gossip! ;) ;). Its much easier to know exactly where a problem (poacher) is going to be than it it walk around a million acres looking for one.

MoistMuffin69134 karma

Nice job! It's fantastic to hear good news when it comes to the rhinos and elephants.

Is lethal force ever used? I'd imagine poachers to be armed.. but I don't know anything about poaching.

damienmander415 karma

Being a ranger is a tough and often thankless job, hiden away from the eyes of the world, yet protecting nature - the greatest asset we have. Sometimes rangers are shot at, sometimes they shoot in the line of duty. We employ a western law enforcement model, where we train rangers to use the minimum amount of force required to get the job done. We aim to preserve human life as well as wildlife. This does not mean they cannot shoot if their life is in danger. Women seem to deescalate the situation and the 80 arrests the Akashinga rangers have made have been done without a shot being fired.

davidc75217 karma

Thanks for all the good work you are doing for us.

Being South African, I know how much of a pain in the ass African governments can be to deal with.

Are they helpful, and is there a lot of red tape to jump through?

Also do the teams carry weapons, which ones, and under what law/licenses?

Thanks!

damienmander321 karma

They are very supportive of this program and President Mnangagwa's daughter is one of the rangers, albeit part time.

The weapons they use are AR-15's and .308 bold action rifles.

abc123cnb187 karma

Hi there!

First of all, please allow me to thank you all for the efforts you’ve put into stopping poaching. Growing up in a country where poaching lead to a noticeable decrease of biodiversity, I truly believe in the works that you are doing.

That being said, here is my question for you two:

Chosen from your experiences in battling against poaching... what is your proudest triumph? And if you don’t mind me asking... what is your most... haunting defeat?

damienmander454 karma

Thank you very much. i really appreciate the question.

While it is early days at the moment, the Akashinga program looks like it will really shift things up here. It focuses on the long term acquisition and protection of millions of acres of precious biodiversity which would otherwise be lost to human settlement and grazing or exploited for trophy hunting. This coupled with our work in Kenya in leadership development and Im really excited about what we are doing. Real change across multiple regions.

My most haunting defeat - there have been lots of mistakes. I am partly responsible for the death of too many Iraqi’s. As a former special operations solder who worked as a contractor in Iraq, it is easy to assume what you believe to be the cause of those deaths. But those deaths were not from my weapon, but from my actions, or lack thereof. I was part of management team that trained and deployed over 6000 Iraqi National Police and Iraqi Special Police. Contracted and tasked by the Ministry on Interior, as part of the Multi National Force Iraq (MNFI), we were given 6 weeks to recruit, train, equip and deploy these men back onto the frontlines. Many died. Many deserted, and many joined the insurgency and fought back against us. Regardless, there is no greater way to demonstrate a failed theory than to march men towards a likely death. We did what we were told. We fulfilled contractual obligations and we got paid far too well to do it. I was too young and too inexperienced to ask the right questions about the wrong practices. The training and leadership development was only a charade to report back on numbers, and I learnt a lesson. Training and capacity building should take as long as it needs to take, not as long as we can allow or afford.

abc123cnb68 karma

Thank you very much for your answer! Sounds like the approach of building self-reliant local operation is working out for you.

And I’m sorry for making you recall your experiences in Iraq. I personally do not have a military background but many of my friends are/were service members of the U.S military and many of them served tours in the Middle East. Most walked out from their experience there but unfortunately, some didn’t...

I guess what I’m trying to say is that just like those of us who are paying taxes (which funded it all in Iraq), like paying taxes, something simply can’t be helped... and don’t beat yourself up for it, you are doing good works now.

Again, thanks for your honest answers!

damienmander78 karma

Thank you very much for the post. Yeah, its tough to look back on what we all did to that country. For a lot of those that went, the real war starts when you get back home and start to reflect. Reflection is not really something we take time to do in war, and perhaps we should. The daily job is so busy and demanding, and you are in the weeds. When you leave you come up to 30,000ft and can really consider what it was all about.

damienmander131 karma

Chosen from your experience battling against poaching... what is your proudest triumph? And if you don’t mind me asking... what is your most... haunting defeat?

From Nyaradzo - I can witness that I haven't been defeated or embarrassed since all the arrest we made were very successful in all corners. Because in most cases, when these poachers saw us, they just comply since we are armed.

And my proudest moment is when we made our first arrest ,I came to believe in myself that I can do it as like men did before

flying_collarbone99 karma

What personal feat made you feel a superhero?

damienmander280 karma

Going vegan!! The best thing I felt I have ever done it to go vegan. Rangers need to risk their lives and carry weapons to protect animals. The most liberating thing is to know that we can provide the greatest protection by simply not eating them. Its the best thing we can do for the world. The best part of what we do as a team is to protect entire ecosystems. In these ecosystems are the sexy animals (elephant/rhino/lion etc), but also the elaborate web of life called biodiversity which makes everything possible. By just protecting these areas, all creatures have a chance to live and thrive.

6_6790 karma

Thank you for your heartfelt answer. Vegans get a lot of flack and I guess people were expecting a more heroic-catching-bad-guys kind of answer. Changing your own ways is challenging, and you are absolutely entitled to be proud of that! Thank you for doing everything you can to bring some good into the world.

I would also like to thank Nyaradzo and all wildlife rangers for putting their lives on the line to protect animals. You are amazing role models.

Edit: typos

damienmander65 karma

Thank you i have just read your response to her in a voice message

gamerguy963280 karma

What the fuck did you just fucking say about me, you little bitch? I'll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Navy Seals, and I've been involved in numerous secret raids on Al-Quaeda, and I have over 300 confirmed kills. I am trained in gorilla warfare and I'm the top sniper in the entire US armed forces. You are nothing to me but just another target. I will wipe you the fuck out with precision the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth, mark my fucking words. You think you can get away with saying that shit to me over the Internet? Think again, fucker. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of spies across the USA and your IP is being traced right now so you better prepare for the storm, maggot. The storm that wipes out the pathetic little thing you call your life. You're fucking dead, kid. I can be anywhere, anytime, and I can kill you in over seven hundred ways, and that's just with my bare hands. Not only am I extensively trained in unarmed combat, but I have access to the entire arsenal of the United States Marine Corps and I will use it to its full extent to wipe your miserable ass off the face of the continent, you little shit. If only you could have known what unholy retribution your little "clever" comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your fucking tongue. But you couldn't, you didn't, and now you're paying the price, you goddamn idiot. I will shit fury all over you and you will drown in it. You're fucking dead, kiddo. You know I had to do it to em.

damienmander110 karma

"I eat pieces of shit like your for breakfast!!!"

"You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?"

damienmander60 karma

Hahah! I saw that post 4 years ago on here too. Nice one. Its late at night here and I'm on the 5th beer. So good to get a laugh!

UsedLlama4sale49 karma

Nyaradzo, just want to say it's really incredible what you are doing. I have always wanted to visit Africa and see these animals in the wild so I'm thankful there are people like you protecting them.

Two questions
1. What was the hardest part about training for this job?

  1. What is the coolest thing you have seen while out in the bush?

damienmander113 karma

From Damien: Here is a pic of Nyaradzo

https://imgur.com/yQRhtWe

WeaponizedNarcissism37 karma

What an absolute badass. I am in awe.

damienmander37 karma

Here are some more: https://imgur.com/8R3yhwJ

damienmander27 karma

She is awesome.

damienmander112 karma

From Nyaradzo in the Lower Zambezi:

1: Thank you!! It means a lot to us. Please come and visit us. We will look after you :)

2: The hardest part of our jobs was in the beginning. Proving to everybody that women can be a ranger. But we have totally succeeded in that now

3: The coolest thing we have seen....hmmm that is a tough one, but I will have to say elephants. There are so many amazing animals here, but I love the elephants.

cman99943 karma

This is a fantastic AMA. A lot of great and brutally honest responses from you guys. Also tons of respect for the initiative in general I think it is an awesome way to go about things. Will definitely donate what I can afford when I get home!

As a question. Are there any lessons or significant takeaways from your time training soldiers in Iraq that have inspired a new or different approach to how you are training the Akashinga team? And in what way?

damienmander40 karma

Thank you so much. Very much appreciate your comments. The most profound lesson from Iraq was to spend the time it takes to teach and mentor, not the time you are given. Learning needs to be ongoing. Leadership is critical and motivation the most important ingredient. These transcend sex and race. With Akashinga it was my first time working with women, so I had a lot of very positive surprises.

saltydawg10243 karma

What is your third favorite reptile?

damienmander38 karma

Its always been the Spider-Man Lizard. Can't get it off my mind, after the first two that is.

52Hurtz36 karma

Have you any memorable experiences in the deep? Ever see something remarkable, dangerous, or remarkably dangerous?

Any insight on whether the Iraqi Security Forces have actually become more capable since their period of instruction?

And for Ms. Hoto, has there been a shift in how locals perceive poachers as a result of the Akashinga or are they seen as just trying to make ends meet through questionable means?

Thank you both for your time

damienmander295 karma

Memorable experiences....

The most embarrassing - In Mozambique we were filming with 60 Minutes. I was in an open jeep with no roof, door or windshield. There is a snake in Mozambique called the Mozambique Spitting Cobra. It spits deadly venom from a great distance in your face and blinds you. I was driving the jeep down a steep embankment for the money shot on sunset when I got spat in the face with a full load. I got out on the ground and was rolling around and carrying on in a way unbecoming of a former special ops dude - Thinking I was going blind. After a while i had a sudden recovery. Everyone was puzzled. The camera man went back the footage and realised I had actually bumped the windshield wash lever and squirted myself in the face with water. They nicknamed the windshield viper. Very bad day at the office. At least I can still see.

52Hurtz65 karma

Ah that's funny as hell. Thanks for sharing that

damienmander66 karma

Thanks guys. Not so funny for my ego!

damienmander28 karma

And for Ms. Hoto, has there been a shift in how locals perceive poachers as a result of the Akashinga or are they seen as just trying to make ends meet through questionable means?

From Nyaradzo - Before Akashinga, poachers used to hunt animals in whatever way they deem to. But now it's a different & a new world to them. And I understand that many questions arise to them on how we are making it .

RTwhyNot35 karma

What is the point to making it all female?

damienmander96 karma

As below, They have many qualities that are different to men. Im not saying better, I'm just saying different. We still support and train many male rangers. With men, as it was for us lads in the military, we are trained to fight and tend to show our aggression in carrying our our function. Women seem to want to understand the problem more from a grass-roots level and deal with it through dialog, not conflict. That has been the biggest eye opener for me.

Ashjrethul25 karma

Great reasoning as to why we need way more women in politics. You guys are awesome.

damienmander28 karma

And yes, I agree.

damienmander20 karma

thank you so much

wunderforce22 karma

Huh, that is fascinating. The fact all 80 arrests have been without armed conflict seems to be quite a testament to that. Very interesting that less force and more understanding was the way to go.

How did you know that women would be the best people for the job? Did you know ahead of time or was the formation of an all female task force due to other circumstances?

damienmander36 karma

Thank you so much. We did know. As an organisation we initially perceived ourself at being at reputational risk by incorporating women onto the front lines. In conservation, women are outnumbered by men on the front lines at a ration of up to 100:1. Halfway through day one we knew we had something very special. We thought we were putting them through hell. The reality is they had had already been through hell given their backgrounds. The personal development of the women in the Akashinga program evolves dramatically from the moment they sign up for the program and swap their civilian clothing for fatigues. By week 5 they have fine-tuned a warrior instinct few will ever know. They received the same law enforcement training and fulfill the same role as a male ranger, learning skills such as leadership, patrolling, camouflage and concealment, first aid, dangerous wildlife awareness, democratic policing, search and arrest, human rights, crime scene preservation, crisis management, firearm safety and use, information gathering and conservation ethics. Here is a great pic of them being put through their paces: https://imgur.com/hxKkkGU

ironlabel1-5 karma

Probably more funding if I had to guess? Not really sure I would just pick the best people. Regardless of gender.

damienmander2 karma

Yeah, always in need. :)

DefParrot-17 karma

Feminism.

damienmander27 karma

Not really, in conservation men outnumber women by up to 100:1 on the front lines. At the very least here we have twice as many people to choose from. At best, I think the fierce natural protective instinct of women plus their ability to de-escualte and communicate with local stakeholders will really change the face of conservation.

Macewindow5434 karma

With your levels of funding, is there any plausibility of UAV/RPA platform use to monitor/protect high traffic poaching sites? I have hear stories of retired MQ1 platforms being relatively cheap (as low as 8 million)

damienmander101 karma

We went down the drone path. The most valuable asset in Africa are its people and if you empower them they will get the job done, much cheaper than a drone. We cant replace people with circuits and algorithms here.

Macewindow549 karma

thank you for your response !

damienmander14 karma

Pleasure mate

CalmEnthusiasm26 karma

Do you work directly or indirectly with VETPAW?

damienmander100 karma

Also, in working with women, we changed the strategy on nature conservation. We put female empowerment at the centre of the strategy, giving the greatest traction in community development, and conservation became the bi-product. As an industry that has had billions invested in it over past decades, we are still seeing animals heading towards extinction. It was time to try something else. I read an article in the NY Times about the US Army inducting women as Army Rangers. I got rescued by US Rangers in Norther Baghdad once. I thought, if the USA Army can have females as rangers, then why cant there be more women as rangers in conservation. Men outnumber women by up to 100:1 on the front lines here. “A growing body of evidence suggests that empowering women is the single biggest force for positive change in the world today.” ~ The Nature Conservancy. We have noticed: Less aggression - more relationship building and collaboration with community. Women seem to instinctively deescalate potential conflict, meaning a less militarized approach. Less militarized equals a far more cost effective and less antagonistic solution. Women are naturally fierce protectors. Women are not known for poaching. Placing them in these positions of authority greatly reduced the chances of corruption within the ranks. Since beginning we have not seen a single incidence of corruption. Women spend up to three times more of their salary on family and local community too.

ruminajaali14 karma

Interesting about women being "natural fierce protectors". Never thought about that because men are typically seen in that role. Very enlightening.

damienmander22 karma

Thank you very much. It was also an eye opener for me.

damienmander85 karma

We do not. We used to bring in foreign military personnel, like myself but it is not the answer over here. i have found that out the long and hard way. We have found that the best solution to Africa's challenges, are empowered African's. With our partners in Kenya at Ranger Campus and Thin Green Line Foundation, we are all working on building indigenous capacity at leadership level in conservation programs. In the past 14 months we have trained 37 indigenous instructors who have subsequently trained over 500 of their own rangers.

CalmEnthusiasm23 karma

Thanks. I've worked with some projects in Africa before, and totally agree with empowering them. Good stuff.

damienmander21 karma

Thank you very much. Where were you working?

trashpandasymphony25 karma

I really admire you and your rangers for the work you do. What's your favourite animals and things about being out in the bush? Where is the best place to come as a traveller (from the best side of the Tasman ;0)) to see you all in action and ensure our money supports your projects?

damienmander69 karma

Okay, I'l post it here, but don't tell anyone please!!? My favourite animals are squirrels and sausage dogs - for the simple reason that they make me laugh. But lets keep that between us pretty please. Its not great for my image.

damienmander47 karma

What I love about nature in Zimbabwe is how wild and open it is. There are no fences for 100's of miles in any direction when we are out there. I love protecting ecosystems, not specific species. Im about all animals (why I'm vegan too) and if we protect the entire ecosystem, then everything can flourish.

damienmander38 karma

We finished up on the reserve in Victoria Falls where we were conducting the volunteer program for international guests and have been working on the acquisition of areas that were previously set aside for trophy hunting. Unfortunately these have no tourist facilities. We do protect the southern boundary of the World Heritage listed Mana Pools, an amazing place which I would highly recommend. We are right next door, so please pop in!

trashpandasymphony9 karma

Thanks for your replies ( sausage dogs, snort! - I was expecting something a bit more exotic)

damienmander11 karma

I know!!! Im sorry. Did i let you down?! :)

supra1225 karma

This is a question about your journey. You went from military to founding a non-profit to defend at risk wildlife - in this case Africa.

When you were in the military did you ever think about doing something like this in your life?

What did you have planned for your future as you moved through the military?

Did you really just visit Africa and say "Fuck it, this is what i'm going to dedicate my life to."

Much respect for your will and mission to make a difference.

damienmander91 karma

I joined the military for adventure. I want to Iraq for money and I came to Africa for a fight, nt a cause. Seeing the work of rangers and the plight of animals made me realise that there is far more to life than chasing adventure. I then sold everything to invest in this cause. Rangers and animals changed my life for the better.

JonathanJONeill23 karma

I have a couple of questions.

  1. If you were to compare the level of training that these women receive to a military branch, what would they most represent in terms of hardship and skills? To clarify, would you say that the training these women receive is on par with what one would receive if they joined the Army, Marines, etc? I'm just using American branches as I am an American and know those more. Feel free to compare to other branches.

  2. What sort of ratio in regards to arrests and/or approaching poachers are peaceful/violent? Are they mostly peaceful or do you regularly end up having to resort to violence in self-defense?

  3. Have you had any serious injuries or deaths (unit members or poachers) during an arrest or approach? Poaching is big money to these people and I assume some aren't willing to just be arrested without a fight.

  4. Are there plans to set up additional units in other parts of Africa? If not, what is the operational range of your current unit? Do you have access to helicopters or other means of transport to get to far-away areas?

I truly respect what you've done here. Africa has long needed a special force for wildlife protection and management.

damienmander52 karma

1: I would say basic infantry at this stage. We don't need Seal Team 6 though. We need disciplined and motivated people who believe their job is the most important in the world. 2: 80 arrests without them firing a single shot in conflict. The women work the intel so well that most arrests are made at 0300hrs in the dark of night the the target is sound asleep. 3: On other programs we have has serious injuries during arrest. In Mozambique we nearly lost 3 guys. We are fighting organised crime, so the threat is always there. 4: We are in Southern and East Africa (4 countries) and growing. 5: We used to have helicopters, but as women deescalate the requirement for militarisation is much less.

JonathanJONeill7 karma

Follow-up question:

Do you think, at some point, the African government may endorse and help fund your unit once they see the progress you've made? Perhaps create it's own unit to work in conjunction with yours. Or is animal conservation not something high on their priority list?

damienmander29 karma

“I am also proud to recognizethe women rangers of the Akashinga project, who my daughter Tariro joined late last year. Women will play a vital role in the rebuilding of Zimbabwe. Through this program, women are being empowered to make a positive contribution to their communities and to protect our precious wildlife.

We salute their bravery and commitment.”

A statement made by Zimbabwe’s President EmmersenMnangagwa, pictured

here with the women of Akashinga and IAPF Founder Damien Mander

alex_beluga18 karma

Damian - what you & your whole team are doing is truly inspiring, I’ve been following for a few years - thank you. How do we donate? How else can we help?

damienmander21 karma

https://www.iapf.org/reddit/

Thank you so much. Ultimately it is you guys that allow us to make the difference. I used to be the guy that walked into the bar and brought the first round of drinks for everyone - when I had the money. Things are different now. I have to ask for it and I was uncomfortable about that for a while. Then I realised, we provide a way for people around the world to make a real change. Thats powerful and I'm proud to not only be asking for funds for these women, but that Reddit and overseas supporters care enough to be the change.

JabbaTheButthut17 karma

I think it's awesome what you all are doing! I have two questions.

  1. How many times have you run in Trophy hunters and how big of a problem is trophy hunting?
  2. What have you found these poachers are attempting to do when killing these animals? Collect Ivory, Rhino Horn?

damienmander50 karma

We do see trophy hunters, but our role is to have a conversion with them, not an argument. For or against it, trophy hunting has generated income and security across many African wilderness preserves for decades. Although it has worked in many areas as a way to generate income, hunting is increasingly providing a legal way to legitimise illegal poaching activities and the export of products such as ivory.

Across Africa, hunting areas make up a staggering one-sixth of all landmass across participating countries and these areas are often the most strategic, bordering communities and buffering National Parks. Reduced wildlife populations, tougher restrictions around the import and export of trophy’s such as Ivory, and increased activism are driving hunting into the ground. As funding from hunting into the conservation of areas decreases, many of these preserves and their neighbouring communities no longer receive sufficient benefits to motivate conservation. The areas being abandoned by hunters become susceptible to illegal mining, timber harvesting, poaching and human settlement. To continue preserving these areas and their significant biodiversity, communities need to be included in future models while gaining similar or greater benefits than what trophy hunting provided.

It seems that hunters visiting from oversees lose interest in ‘assisting’ these preserves once there is nothing left worthy of shooting. As the argument against trophy hunting intensifies, there has been no proven, scalable model as a workable alternative for these vacant areas. The creation of a viable economic alternative is not possible without a novel approach, and from what we have experienced, not possible in this case without women at the forefront.

Hiring all women units allows us to recruit directly from the community bordering the area we are trying to protect. Law-enforcement, the largest budgetary line line-item in on-the-ground conservation then becomes a community investment. More than $0.62 in every dollar of our operational expenses are going back into the community and 80% of that at household level where nobody can get their hands on the money but the women that worked for it.

On poaching (which is illegal hunting) we find that bush meat poaching and ivory poaching are two of the biggest issues we face.

Thanks mate!

SomeBloke15 karma

Damien and Nyaradzo, thank you for what you do.

I imagine the majority of poachers are people from economically vulnerable communities that have been recruited by the syndicates that sit back in the shadows so what measures are being taken to invest or include the surrounding communities in the conservation of the animals? What you do on the ground is a hugely important and necessary part of the total effort but I imagine it’s also a bit like whack-a-mole (with slightly higher stakes, of course) in that a poacher is easy for a syndicate to replace?

Nyaradzo, are you ever threatened by fellow community members in any way due to your work? And do you ever encounter issues of patriarchy given that you're in a position of power?

damienmander30 karma

From Nyaradzo - Yaah at first especially men, they used to threaten me in such a way that I could even feel discouraged of my job or even felt down .

Their core point was: women can't do a job used to be done by men for years & they could even mock me saying :it's just a matter of wasting my time.

But now am more than happy because most of them are getting to understand our mission as female rangers.

damienmander23 karma

Thank you. A few quotes first which come to mind. “When we put local communities at the heart of conservation, we improve the lives of people, animals, and the environment.” IAPF’s Patron, Dr Jane Goodall. And - “There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.” Kofi Annan.

With our program conservation expenditures become a community benefit, providing better incentives to local stakeholders than hunting ever could. How? We invest most of our management and operational costs into the local community at household level. Gear the benefits through the employment of women who spend up to 3 times more of their salary than men on family and local community. Be proactive with community collaboration - not reactive in force, building long-tern partnerships and relationships. When people support Akashinga, they spend the same dollar three times: 1st on unique and effective female empowerment. 2nd on genuine, long-term community development. 3rd as originally intended – on cutting edge conservation.

oftbitb15 karma

How easily do you think this form of conservation can be applied to other countries/ecosystems? Places like Tha Amazon or protecting tigers in India?

damienmander21 karma

It is definitely scalable to other areas. We are in the process of refining now and engaging other countries to implement this mode. This program focuses on the long term acquisition and protection of millions of acres of precious biodiversity which would otherwise be lost to human settlement and grazing or exploited for trophy hunting. It empowers women and in doing so creates a viable economic alternative model to trophy hunting. The ecosystems they protect are home to millions of sentient creatures. The social engineering which takes place as a function of the role the women fulfil as rangers, turns them into key influencers in society to help promote environmental sustainability.

BlackTemplar21549 karma

How can I too become a bad ass?

damienmander12 karma

Roll the dice BlackTemplar! What's there to lose?

wolfsnare249 karma

While everyone here appreciates the amount of effort and grit being put in, do you ever get afraid that you're fighting a lost cause? I sometimes lose hope and believe that we're almost past the point of no return to restore balance on earth. Witnessing greed overtake the nature-human harmony is heartbreaking, so how do you find the courage and strength to continue fighting against an almost unending force intent on destroying everything you stand for?

damienmander27 karma

Perhaps I’m just connecting with too many optimistic or aware people - but I’ve got to say, I’m positive. Despite the oceans and forrest’s being destroyed, the billions of animals killed each year, the atmosphere we are trying our hardest to fry and the wars we wage, I’m positive. Unlike natures evolutionary walk forward over billions of years, we as individuals have only a simple lifetime to grow. To make the most of ourselves and our opportunities. I’m increasingly connecting with people who view success not as what they can make or take, but what they can do for others and leave behind. Thank you to all those that fight to make to world a positive place, when there are so many reasons we should be down. We certainly have an uphill battle on our hands fixing the shit fight we have created. But crisis is great - It kicks our arse into gear.

wallysober9 karma

I have heard that many of the women are Vegan. Is this true?

damienmander24 karma

Yes, the program is vegan. As an unlikely but I feel necessary twist in the world of conservation, the women on project have accepted veganism, acknowledging their responsibility as conservationists to animals and the environment. Looking back on their individual harsh backgrounds they were vulnerable and victimised. They are now in a position of authority and have chosen not to unnecessarily project power or force over anything else, animals included. Taking the long view on this, the more people replacing meat with healthy plant based options in rural Africa will mean less bush meat poaching and the less grazing of cattle in and around wilderness areas – two key issues we face as conservationists and a frequent flashpoint in local communities who often struggle for sufficient water and food to sustain their cattle. It's ironic that a small town called Nyamakate (meaning the ‘meat pot’ in local Shona dialect) would become the home of a grass roots vegan movement in rural Africa.

Conservationists often get involved with their careers because we love animals or the environment, or a combination of the two. The vegan movement is surprisingly un-represented in conservation circles. With an estimated 56-150 billion animals killed annually, our desire to eat meat is the single greatest global cause of suffering. According to The Union of Concerned Scientists, a renowned US non-profit science advocacy organization, Beef production uses more agricultural land than all other food sources combined and regards the overall meat industry as the second-greatest environmental hazard facing our planet behind fossil fuelled vehicles.

Whilst these women, often armed with assault rifles, have to patrol a dangerous ecosystem to protect targeted species, the easiest way for them to safeguard animals when not on duty is to simply not eat them. Such a concept will seem far-fetched to some, but in the increasingly water stressed areas of Southern and East Africa, vegetables will have to be a prominent part of the future. Cattle, which can provide a local source of protein and also double as status and investment, take 48 times more water to produce the same volume of beef as vegetables (Arjen Hoekstra, University of Twente in The Netherlands. 2012). On the community side of the program, our work with Chinhoyi University of Technology develops local project streams that completely exclude the exploitation or suffering of animals.

dru1719 karma

Damien,

  1. Do you see yourself living in Zimbabwe permanently? Or will there be another mission in the future?

  2. I've read that a rangers life is usually fraught with danger (shootouts in the bush, retaliation, etc.) -- do these women face the same risks as their male counterparts in other countries?

  3. What's your favorite thing to eat over there?

Nyaradzo,

  1. Is your daughter aware of what you do and the dangers you face? Would you consider this lifestyle for her in the future?

  2. Had you ever fired a weapon before joining the rangers? How good is your aim now?

  3. What is Tariro's favorite food to eat?

Edit:

One last question for both of you -- What's the most beautiful part of Zimbabwe to you personally?

damienmander32 karma

From Nyaradzo: My daughter is still very young so not so understanding of all dangers I face, but she is very proud of me. Im protecting animals and she loves animals.

I would very much like for her to be a ranger in the future because as far as I can see she has the same passion for wildlife, just like her mother, so its amazing to me.

damienmander16 karma

1: Second (1st) part of your question. I will stay in Zimbabwe indefinitely. We have been here since 2009 and use it as a base to operate in southern and East Africa.

2: They face the same risks and are trained the same way to deal with it.

3: I love a good home cooked curry!

damienmander13 karma

From Nyaradzo - The Zambezi valley is the most beautiful.

Tariro, She favors rice served with beans

insilks8 karma

What amazing work you're doing!

  1. What surprised you most about training an all-female team?

    1. What, if anything, have you learned about women by doing this?
    2. What, if anything, has this experience taught you about yourself?
    3. What, if any, was the biggest adjustment you had to make to your original plan when you started actually forming this team?

damienmander18 karma

Thank you very much.

1: The lack of corruption with the women was the biggest surprise. Ive worked with many units in Africa and corruption always creeps in. With women in this team, we just haven't seen it yet. I don't know if that's because they are women, or the backgrounds they come from, but its an important factor. If you can remove corruption from the equation here, you are halfway home.

2: I got really frustrated in the first few days of training them because they weren't grunting and groaning when we were putting them through their paces. But they still got the job done. It made me realise that women just have a different way of dong things.

3: This has taught me that there is alway a different way to look at things and that nothing is final.

4: The biggest adjustment was getting everybody (including some of our Board members) to give it a chance. It had never been done before, so perceived by many to be a risk.

MChaps5878 karma

How much does the skill set of the rangers overlap with the diving/sniping units?

damienmander11 karma

What we aim for with ranger units is basic infantry/with more of a policing role. We do work more on the HUMINT side which is where the real damage is done on poaching syndicates. The women are great at collecting information which leads to arrests.

ShooterDiarrhea8 karma

I've read a lot that elephants are quite intelligent. Are they able to distinguish between poachers and the rangers?

damienmander35 karma

Im not about poachers versus rangers, but men versus women, yes. The deeper into this experiment we get, the more positive layers we see.Indications so far are that dangerous wildlife such as elephant and buffalo seem far less aggressive towards all female patrols as opposed to mixed or all male patrols. Reports from the male unit that patrolled the area prior to the local demise of the hunting operation reported that antagonized elephants harassed them at least once a month. The women are yet to experience this phenomenon, not to say it wont happen. Professor Victor Muposhi, head of the School of Wildlife, Ecology and Conservationfrom the Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) in Zimbabwe believes this behavior is most likely ingrained instinct after millennia of being hunted and killed by men, not women. An element that the University plans to now research.

mlmintel7 karma

How do you deal with trolls and dickheads, online but also IRL? Is there a way to stay clear headed and not lose your cool? Also, keep up the good work mate. You’re doing a hell of a lot more than some of the dickheads commenting negatively on here.

damienmander13 karma

Its all good mate. They liven things up. Thanks very much mate. I appreciate the comments.

OurNewAntOverlords7 karma

My first personal taste of your work was watching you on the first episode of Lone Target with Joel Lampert. What I personally thought tracking was was completely blown away watching you and your team operate in catching one person and then imagining what it must be like to catch groups of people out to do harm to animals.

My question is, how difficult is it to train people to do this kind of work? Especially those who may be coming into it with no experience at all. Do you prefer to hire someone with military experience or will you take anyone who might show aptitude?

damienmander20 karma

You can train people the science of tracking, but not the art. The science is seeing where someone has been and having an idea of where they are going. The art is being inside their head and knowing what they are thinking.

Majrdestroy6 karma

Will you hire a SCUBA certified lanky 21 year old who is tough and likes the outdoors a lot, can handle a firearm well, and can drive like a stunt man? Because I have always wanted to do this but my asthma and two knee surgeries held me from military service and I never have heard of somebody letting people do this without military background who isn't a native.

damienmander6 karma

If you can get yourself a work visa in Zimbabwe, sure, come and see me.

victalac5 karma

With the planet's increasing population, I think that all the large animals are doomed. Do you think it's feasable for the UN to take over an island large enough to sustain a large ecosystem For these animals and keep humans out? If so, what island would you suggest?

damienmander8 karma

Like Australia maybe!!! :)

I don't think they will take over any islands. I do know we need to find way to live in harmony with nature.

tfoe5 karma

Hi Damien,

Amazing work and it warms my heart to see people this dedicated to protecting wildlife.

I’ve been in Africa a lot (I’m a dutch filmmaker with passion for wildlife).

What I’ve noticed in the last few years is that there are so many NGO’s out there helping out wildlife on different levels, it always feels that if we could combine all those organisations and people and align them better, we could work more efficient in conservation efforts.

Although poaching is obviously a big problem, the biggest problem would always be habitat loss.

My question is, if you would have 1 billion dollars for conservation purposes, what would you do?

And second, would you agree to combine your NGO with others to ensure more efficiency in anti-poaching and wildlife conservancy?

This has puzzled me for a long time and I’m curious how you feel about this.

Thanks for your time and your work!!

damienmander5 karma

Very good question. And thank you. No doubt that conservation is very fragmented and that the money could be better spent. I find that a lot of the really good work is being done at the grass roots level by the smaller organisations. Rolling them all into one would only turn them into a big marketing machine I feel. Let the grass roots be grass roots. Research who you would like to support and then get behind them. They/we do make a difference. You wont see us with billboard in time square, but we are getting the job done.

If I had a billion dollars.... with that type of money I would need good investment advice on how to make that money work long term. Philanthropically, I bring on some additional partners and also invest in some other organisations that are doing great work, as we can't do everything.

GeneticsGuy5 karma

Ever encountered some uncomfortably large or creepy sea creatures while on a dive?

damienmander6 karma

Great White Shark in Bass Strait in 2002.....:)

rude865 karma

You’d think the masses would figure out that things like this are scams after the Kony shit in 2012, but nope, you’re all still dummies who think this guy isn’t taking a big cut of those donations for himself.

His reasoning for an all-woman unit is “women build relationships instead of fighting.” Like...really? You people fall for this shit?

damienmander12 karma

Damn. The gig is up. I hope you don't trace my IP address to the beach in the Caribbean.

rude862 karma

Cute deflection. :) Have anything meaningful to say or wanna shit-post again?

damienmander14 karma

Give me something meaningful to respond to.

TimesNewCarthaginian4 karma

[deleted]

damienmander7 karma

The common misconception is that we need to wage war, and I have beaten the war drum for years. Women have given us a different view of things. A different way of doing things. A way to work together and not against.

Squirrels and sausage dogs!

damienmander5 karma

My favourite animals are squirrels and sausage dogs - for the simple reason that they make me laugh. But lets keep that between us pretty please. Its not great for my image.

Soonyulnoh24 karma

What do you think of Donald Trump as CinC and what he has said about certain veterans, like those that get captured by the enemy?

damienmander12 karma

Overall I think the USA needs to chill out and ease up on the global domination/ big brother militant standpoint. It always ends in tears, and death. But, those that are sent to fight and often die for wars, whatever the reason, deserve a level of respect I believe. Mom always said we should just "lock all the old men up and let them fight it out".

theVeganSheepdog4 karma

When are you going to be in the US again so we can grab a beer!?!

damienmander4 karma

Hey brother!!! March next year man. Lets do it!

post some of your links here man. I love your posts.

Red__M_M4 karma

How did you go from diver to sniper? Those are strongly different tasks.

damienmander8 karma

Yes!!! A fish out of water would be an understatement. After Sept 11 the Australian Government formed a special operations unit called Tactical Assault Group East (TAG-E). I came across to Water Platoon, and was then asked to be a sniper. I made it through and was online as a sniper from there.

gilliganxr353 karma

How do you feel about the band Radiohead and can you say "Irish wristwatch" at a normal speed without messing up?

damienmander7 karma

Not really a Radiohead fan, nut don't mind them. Just tried to say "Irish wristwatch" and fucked it up the first few times

zorga3 karma

Hi Damien! isn't militarisation actually proving to be counter-productive in many places (as well as wildly expensive)? Wouldn't it better to spend the money in educating communities and un-armed patrolling?

damienmander8 karma

A few quotes first which come to mind. “When we put local communities at the heart of conservation, we improve the lives of people, animals, and the environment.” IAPF’s Patron, Dr Jane Goodall. And - “There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.” Kofi Annan.

With our program conservation expenditures become a community benefit, providing better incentives to local stakeholders than hunting ever could. How? We invest most of our management and operational costs into the local community at household level. Gear the benefits through the employment of women who spend up to 3 times more of their salary than men on family and local community. Be proactive with community collaboration - not reactive in force, building long-tern partnerships and relationships. When people support Akashinga, they spend the same dollar three times: 1st on unique and effective female empowerment. 2nd on genuine, long-term community development. 3rd as originally intended – on cutting edge conservation.

damienmander3 karma

Edward Gallagher

1000%. Let me find the detailed response about this in the AmA and repost it here.

InfiniteAnguish3 karma

Do you think women should be in combat roles in the military despite their physical and social disadvantages ?

damienmander9 karma

What disadvantages?

psykes14143 karma

How do you cope up with the fact that during one of your missions you may never return home? Must be hard mentally.

damienmander9 karma

These are the risks we all take for the job we signed up for. We could all get hit by a bus tomorrow too. Honestly, I never think about it.

slapstick2233 karma

Do you operate bro?

damienmander5 karma

Yes mate, not as much as I used to. I spend about 3 months each year lecturing around the world. But Im in the bush a lot.

Book83 karma

Do they have the right to shoot to kill?

damienmander17 karma

They have the right to defend themselves. Being a ranger is a tough and often thankless job, hiden away from the eyes of the world, yet protecting nature - the greatest asset we have. Sometimes rangers are shot at, sometimes they shoot in the line of duty. We employ a western law enforcement model, where we train rangers to use the minimum amount of force required to get the job done. We aim to preserve human life as well as wildlife. This does not mean they cannot shoot if their life is in danger. Women seem to deescalate the situation and the 80 arrests the Akashinga rangers have made have been done without a shot being fired.

SaltEnots3 karma

Damien - thank you so much for taking the initiative to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

What are some of the day to day tasks that most people wouldn't think to consider? Do you have any daily rituals which may or may not help, but are still important to you?

damienmander9 karma

Food is a really important part of the program. Eating together as family. The program is vegan and we have two chefs working there to keep them well fed, as well as teaching them how to grow and prepare their own healthy food.

Gabenfoodle3 karma

What are your thoughts on having women in combat?

damienmander16 karma

Why not? I don't care if someone stands or sits to take a piss. If they can do the job and want the job, that's all I care about.

SmoothusMaximus5 karma

Are there any issues with women in combat compared to men and likewise are there any instances where you find them to be better suited for a particular task than men?

damienmander6 karma

As an industry that has had billions invested in it over past decades, we are still seeing animals heading towards extinction. It was time to try something else. I read an article in the NY Times about the US Army inducting women as Army Rangers. I got rescued by US Rangers in Norther Baghdad once. I thought, if the USA Army can have females as rangers, then why cant there be more women as rangers in conservation. Men outnumber women by up to 100:1 on the front lines here. “A growing body of evidence suggests that empowering women is the single biggest force for positive change in the world today.” ~ The Nature Conservancy. We have noticed: Less aggression - more relationship building and collaboration with community. Women are also the backbone of informal communication networks in rural society – brilliant at collecting critical information. Women seem to instinctively deescalate potential conflict, meaning a less militarized approach. Less militarized equals a far more cost effective and less antagonistic solution. Women are naturally fierce protectors. Women are not known for poaching. Placing them in these positions of authority greatly reduced the chances of corruption within the ranks. Since beginning we have not seen a single incidence of corruption. Women spend up to three times more of their salary on family and local community.

While we seek not to generalize, women often exhibit less corruption, egoism, nepotism, entitlement, etc. than their male counterparts.

M1chaelSc4rn3 karma

Wow, that’s something I’ve never even close to heard of! Who pitched the idea of an all-female ranger unit?

damienmander10 karma

We saw a unit in South Africa that was partly female, but they were restricted in their roles. The men did the armed work inside the reserve and were not recognised for it, and the women were unarmed patrolling in the communities and received all the attention. It undermined the men as they were hidden, and undermined the women as they weren't allowed to fulfil all the roles. We wanted to trial the women in all positions and see how they went. After only a few hours we saw how tough they were. It then because our job to train them. It was also tough finding a pace to deploy them. The program was knocked back from a number of places before we finally got a start in an abandoned trophy hunting reserve.

diepiepie2 karma

Hello!

2 questions

  1. How are you doing?

  2. Do you have any funny/interesting stories from your time serving?

damienmander5 karma

Hello and good morning! Thank you. 

1: Im doing pretty well thank you. Been working hard at this for nearly a decade now. 2 decades in military or law enforcement. This program feels very different and we are confident it will play a major role in conservation. 

2: In Mozambique we were filming with 60 Minutes. I was in an open jeep with no roof, door or windshield. There is a snake in Mozambique called the Mozambique Spitting Cobra. It spits deadly venom from a great distance in your face and blinds you. I was driving the jeep down a steep embankment for the money shot on sunset when I got spat in the face with a full load. I got out on the ground and was rolling around and carrying on in a way unbecoming of a former special ops dude - Thinking I was going blind. After a while i had a sudden recovery. Everyone was puzzled. The camera man went back the footage and realised I had actually bumped the windshield wash lever and squirted myself in the face with water. They nicknamed the windshield viper. Very bad day at the office. At least I can still see.

TrueNinjafrog2 karma

What equipment does this all-female unit use (such as locating technologies, weapons, etc.)?

Great work on this btw, it's nice to see that such an extraordinary group can see this level of success.

damienmander10 karma

Hello and thank you. They use basic gear. Nothing fancy. Good intel and good tracking is their best weapon. All the mapping software of held on Android and they actually communicate a lot of WhatsApp when posting pics of tracks they are following, maps they need plotted or group chat. It's really very useful. They carry AR-15's

ScruffyUSP2 karma

First off, are the rangers armed with locally sourced AK47s? I am a small arms historian.

Second, thank you for doing this. Natural wonders need to be protected.

damienmander3 karma

Thank you very much. They have AR-15's

Flames152 karma

What roles does new, and open source technologies play into your cause? Do you have any specific examples on technologies you use to help you do your job?

damienmander2 karma

Honestly, one of the best tools we have is WhatsApp. We don't have coverage everywhere, but where we do, everyone prefers it. Even when we operated along the border of South Africa/Mozambique with multiple agencies and units, WhatsApp was still more reliable than any other system anyone had.

gazuk232 karma

During your time in special forces who was the best unit (any country) that you operated alongside and why?

Keep up the great work!

damienmander3 karma

I enjoyed working with the Americans and Kiwis. They were good operators. The British too.

Raptorzesty2 karma

Do you think you would get the same positive response if you ran an all-man ranger team?

damienmander7 karma

I have been running all male units for almost a decade and build a career across three continents in training men. We still train men in multiple countries, but tonights discussion was about the unit in Zimbabwe we are training. Previous units with all men have attracted 60 Minutes (twice) National Geographic Magazine (twice) etc etc. This program is not only different, but its working really well which is creating a different level of interest,

WolfDoc2 karma

Late to the show but one question if possible:

How can I help?

The only thing I don't have is money worth speaking of. If I had I would just donate, no reason to ask.

However, I am a Norwegian doctor of biology who have been working with anthrax epidemiology in the Etosha National Park in Namibia since 2012. I also have a military background as a combat medic serving in the Balkans, and doing fieldwork with class A pathogens in Asia and Africa since 2007. I am reasonably well connected home in Norway.

So, any use I can be of, let me know.

damienmander3 karma

Thank you for reaching out. How would you like to be involved?

FeengarBangar2 karma

I have 2:

Ever get tired of tooting your own horn?

Why are you using an AMA for advert?

damienmander3 karma

Well, I didn't put the summary or intro together. Its honesty about the mission, not me. But it got your attention enough to be here commenting! :) - So it worked.

There are people here that are 1: Interested in how we are going to un-fuck the planet and 2: want to contribute to that.

Chrono682 karma

RDR or RDR2?

damienmander4 karma

Neither. More fun in real life bro! Get amongst it!

jwalka12 karma

I support women in combat roles (If they can do everything physically required of them) but found that the Australian government pushes women through infantry training, letting them get away with not completing the required fitness tests males have to complete before going to their unit all because of PC. As you know war doesn’t discriminate and if you can’t meet the standards which are in place for a reason you’ll most likely get someone killed. I’m sure if you were doing selection and one of the males in class couldn’t meet the standards he would be booted off course. There’s been multiple cases where I’ve seen women that can’t meet the standards and the men have had to carry all of their equipment during a pack march or ruck march whatever you guys call it.

That being said. Are the fitness standards for the all female ranger units the same as the male or different? Are there any mixed M/F ranger units and again are they required to meet the same standards as the men?

damienmander8 karma

Fitness standards are the same, but we find the times with men to be faster. But, as I said, its not about being the fittest or strongest. Its about the relationship with the local community.

damienmander6 karma

Think of what we are doing in conservation more of policing than military. They do need military skills and are based in the rural environment, but it is ultimately a community policing role that a ranger must fulfil.

The fact is, they may not be as strong or fast overall, but they more than make up for it in other ways. They deescalate the entire situation with the local community which means less conflict and less militarised approach. We currently spent about ⅓ - ¼ per acre per annum protecting this area where the women are than when we protected a similar sized area in Mozambique with all men. The reason, they are having conversations and building relationships as opposed to having a fight. So we haven't needed canine tracking units, helicopters, aircraft, and a dozen vehicles.

BorkKnightRises2 karma

Is the whole breathing out and firing a real thing? If not, what is the actual technique and does it make a difference?

damienmander6 karma

It sure is. Breath between breaths. Sniping is an adults game of hide and seek! :)

probablybetternow2 karma

Have u kissed a elephant before?

damienmander5 karma

A rhino yes, but not an elephant. I got pissed on by a rhino too once. Does that count?

Tonicfountain162 karma

Do you believe that your ranger unit is making a big difference to stop poaching?

damienmander8 karma

Definitely. They have made 80 arrests in 15 months and the Zimbabwe Government just announced an 80% downturn in elephant poaching this year against 2017. We are playing a role in that. More importantly we are proving a new model of conservation which has not been done before. A model that can reach into the furthest corners of the continue and use conservation funding for rural development, rather than having a war with the local population.

Aron_Page_Rod2 karma

How would a civilian diving enthusiast go on to become a navy diver and how is the process like? Along those same lines, what are some of the most exciting or noteworthy diving experiences youve had working for the navy? I really appreciate your time.

damienmander6 karma

When I first went to Navy recruitment they suggested I do more civilian diving before I could become a navy diver. What a load of shite. Lesson 1 - Don't trust recruitment. They will funnel you to where they need you, not where you want to be. Lesson 2: Being a Navy diver is not about diving. Its about making it through the gruelling selection phases and courses where most fail. They listen to the little bullshit voice in their head and accept the excuse they make up for themselves as to why they don't really want to be there. Lesson 3: Don't listen to that voice. Being a navy diver or special ops is not about being an olympic athlete. Its about not giving up, regardless of what the obstacle is.

GulDul2 karma

[removed]

damienmander5 karma

Being a ranger is a tough and often thankless job, hiden away from the eyes of the world, yet protecting nature - the greatest asset we have. Sometimes rangers are shot at, sometimes they shoot in the line of duty. We employ a western law enforcement model, where we train rangers to use the minimum amount of force required to get the job done. We aim to preserve human life as well as wildlife. This does not mean they cannot shoot if their life is in danger. Women seem to deescalate the situation and the 80 arrests the Akashinga rangers have made have been done without a shot being fired.

SamediB2 karma

Sorry if the question was answered and I missed it, but:

How much did you guys end up making during the AMA?

damienmander3 karma

I think we have raised about 5k by now, which is awesome and we are extremely grateful thank you.

PM_ME_UR_CUDDLEZ1 karma

Has anyone said you're like the Real life version of Big Boss?

damienmander1 karma

Big Boss

No, I just googled it. Is that a good thing or bad thing?

rony1818101 karma

Much pussy?

damienmander1 karma

There is the occasional lion around. I wouldn't go poking anything in that direction though man

thetallgiant1 karma

Hey, I've really been looking to get into anti poaching units after I get out of the military.

What would be the best way to go about that?

damienmander1 karma

Honestly, head to Africa or wherever you want to work. Don't try to launch the carrier over email. Look for what is needed, not what you think is needed. Travel. Listen. Build relationships. Work hard. Believe.

Observerparticipant1 karma

How many deaths occur in the field during encounters with poachers?

and it seems you fall into one or both of these categories: Misogyny antonym

The male counterpart of misogyny is misandry, the hatred or dislike of men;

the antonym of misogyny is philogyny, the love or fondness of women.

What kind of sex life is there among the rangers?

damienmander1 karma

I come from special ops. The ultimate boys club. Going down this path was not an easy decision. It was a gamble. But it was about trying to find another way of doing things for the benefit of the mission. And we have that now. We still actually train more men than women on other programs, because the industry is mostly made up of men. But the program we are discussing tonight is mostly made up of women.

Bridgestone141 karma

You are living my dream job man!!! Also when are we going to get all female spec ops units roaming Afghanistan?

damienmander3 karma

Its been a tough job to get. Carved out of granite!

You may enjoy this article from last week in the NYTimes: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/22/opinion/let-women-be-warriors.html

ouncesAndPounds-2 karma

How do you deal with your murder of innocents at the behest of the rich and powerful? When you blindly take orders, do you honestly believe you are making the world better or are you just evil?

damienmander1 karma

Trust me, Im with you on this. Its horrible that old men send their countries children off the war to fight their arguments. If I hadn't have walked the path I did, I wouldn't be here today. Would I change things, I don't know... But you have to trust me that I'm with you on the hate for war.

mhotopp-2 karma

why is Trump such a douche?

damienmander3 karma

Not sure, I didn't vote him in, being Australian!

FupeLiasco23-4 karma

What does it feel like to have Iraqi blood on your hands?

damienmander2 karma

Thanks Jonathon.

Seventh_Letter-8 karma

Have you ever posted on the sub kotakuinaction? They are very supportive of women too

damienmander1 karma

No, I have not, can you please send a link

Koboldsftw-8 karma

How does it feel to have blood on your hands?

damienmander27 karma

Not great. But all we can do is evolve and try to make the best of what we leave here on earth. I cant take back the past, but I won't be trapped by it either. Im putting the skills I have, the lessons I have learnt and 100% of the money I ever made into nature conservation.

Corrupt3dz-19 karma

Did you smash? Be honest.

(Dw guys. I know its illegal to have fun on the internet)

damienmander3 karma

Smash?

Corrupt3dz-8 karma

You know the female beings?

Is that even allowed?

damienmander8 karma

We put them through very tough training. We tried to 'smash' them. But they're too tough. The harder we pushed them, the more they smiled back. :)