• Orpen Camp, Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga 1360, South Africa

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Speaker Bio

Damien Mander is an Iraq war veteran who served as a Naval clearance diver and special operations sniper for the Australian Defense Force. In 2009 while traveling through Africa, he was inspired by the work of rangers and the plight of wildlife.

Following the September 11 attacks, he went on to become a Special Operations Sniper in an elite counter terrorism unit. Later becoming a mercenary, he deployed to Iraq where, amongst other roles, he Project Managed the Iraq Special Police Training Academy overseeing paramilitary training and deployment of troops.

Following three years of service in Iraq, he left the front lines with no direction in his life.

A trip to Africa in early 2009 awakened him to the horrors that the natural world is facing from poaching.

Identifying his niche capabilities for dealing with this injustice, Damien liquidated his wartime savings and founded the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF).

Now a multinational non-profit, the IAPF runs operations on the frontlines of the world’s wildlife wars.

Using battle-proven training and management methods, IAPF applies a project-based paradigm, whereby they operate only in areas which represent high environmental value and where application of unique skills can produce an effective and enduring local solution.

Damien has informed, entertained and inspired select audiences around the world with highlights including a packed Sydney Opera House for TEDx 2013, Obama’s Presidential Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking at the Department of Interior in Washington DC

The United Nations Great Apes Survival Summit in Jackson Hole, The Royal Geographical Society in London and sold out crowds at The Explorers Club in New York City.

Damien Mander

Damien is an Iraq war veteran who served as a Naval clearance diver and special operations sniper for the Australian Defense Force. In 2009 while travelling through Africa, he was inspired by the work of rangers and the plight of wildlife. Liquidating his life savings, the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) was established to be the last line of defence for nature.

Over the past decade the IAPF has scaled to train and support rangers which now help protect over 4 million hectares of African wilderness.

In 2017 IAPF founded ‘Akashinga – Nature Protected by Women’, a program that has already grown to over 170 employees, becoming the only group of nature reserves in the world to be protected by women. The goal is to employ 1000 women by 2025, protecting a network of 20 nature reserves, all managed by the IAPF.

Damien is the winner of the 2019 Winsome Constance Kindness Gold Medal, a prestigious international recognition for services to animals and humanity. Past recipients include Sir David Attenborough and Dr Jane Goodall. He was featured in the newly released James Cameron documentary The Game Changers, and is now releasing another documentary with James Cameron and National Geographic about his work with the women of Akashinga.

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  • Joseph Pace
    02/12/2020 at 8:12 am

    “Our shoot with Damien was far the most inspiring that we’ve done yet; in my view, he’s one of the most important animal activists on the planet and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of support.”
    Joseph Pace, Co-Producer alongside Oscar winners James Cameron & Louis Psihoyos, Director: The Game Changers.

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  • Dan Bucknell
    01/23/2020 at 8:11 am

    “Damien is a truly inspirational speaker, who can cut to the very core of his greatest conservation issues, stirring his audience to action and providing real hope for the future.”
    Dan Bucknell, Royal Geographical Society Moderator at 2016 talk & Executive Director Tusk Trust UK.

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  • Will Roseman
    08/23/2019 at 8:11 am

    “Damien is riveting. His lecture (which was sold out, two nights in a row), built like a crescendo, from his humble beginnings to his remarkable achievements as one of the world’s most successful rhinoceros advocates and anti-poaching specialists. Using ingenuity, and crafting his knowledge of military strategy, Damien’s work and passion is nothing less than spectacular. Of the hundreds, perhaps thousands of lectures presented at The Explorers Club, Damien’s is one that all others endeavour to be like.” Will Roseman, Executive Director, The Explorers Club, NYC

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  • James Ryan
    05/23/2019 at 8:11 am

    “Damien speaks from his heart engaging his audience with compelling stories of his life and passion for change in the way we treat animals. His TEDxSydney 2013 talk at Sydney Opera House went on to receive a quarter of a million downloads.”
    James Ryan – TEDx Sydney Founding Executive Producer

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