Ex-special operations sniper explains why he created the International Anti-Poaching Foundation
Here's something you don't see everyday. Damien Mander is a former naval special operations sniper for the Australian Defense Force who, after 12 tours of duty in Iraq, ended up in Africa witnessing the horrors of poaching and decided to using his very special skillset to do something about it. He sold everything he had an started the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) with the goal of better training the rangers who are the only thing between well-equipped poachers and endangered species.
What does the IAPF do? In its own words, it develops, implements and manages: Anti-poaching ranger training, conservation security plans, anti-poaching operations, wildlife crime information systems, specialist technology and systems for anti-poaching operations, and field equipment procurement and supply.
It's sad that it has come to this, but the reality is that poachers use military technology and tactics, and if the people who try to protect wildlife don't have similar technology and training, they don't stand a chance of catching them.
Since IAPF took over security operations in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, not one rhino has been poached and the population of critically endangered black rhino has increased by 133% since 2010. IAPF currently covers more than 1 million acres and support 28 other initiatives.
Mander is a big advocate of using unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones), with thermal and night-vision technology, to help rangers find poachers and cover a larger area than they otherwise could (it can hours for a drone to do what would take days to do for a patrol on the ground).
Mander recently conducted a Q&A on Reddit and answered questions from the public about his work and various aspects of his life. It's really interested, check it out: I'm a former special operations sniper who uses my expertise in Africa to protect elephant and rhino from poachers. My name is Damien Mander, AMA.ank) AMA!.
Here's a 60 Minutes segment that aired on CBS about these efforts:
Here's Mander at TEDxSydney in 2013: