Modern Warrior: Damien Mander at TEDxSydney

On May 4 Damien Mander, CEO of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation delivered a TED talk to a packed Sydney Opera House. Please take the time to view the link below and share it as widely as you can. This will assist us in spreading a valuable message about how animals are treated.

Described as a “Double-barrel shotgun with no safety catch”, “Provocatively jarring” and “Extraordinary” this TED talk “is a wakeup call to arms that should be viewed by all human beings”. Even if you have only ever loved just one animal then please share this video that left a packed Sydney Opera House unnervingly challenged.

“Damien Mander prowled the stage like the wild animals he protects, delivering a primal attack on our priorities in a world where those who have no voice are rarely heard.”

Please like, share and tweet to get the message out there.

Read some of the viewer comments over recent days:

Awesome talk mate. Well delivered and thought provoking. 10/10 I have watched TED talks for years and this is by far the best.

Damien – WOW, your TEDx presentation was flawless! An intensely proud moment for all of us trying to help the animal kingdom. So well spoken, emotive yet sensible and just the right amount of ‘crazy’  WELL DONE Shamwari!! You are a warrior amongst mere men. I will be sharing wide and far and for my own benefit, replaying whenever that familiar overwhelming feeling encroaches for anyone involved in this effort!

Just watched your TEDx talk – truly inspiring and thought provoking words.

Your TEDx talk was so inspiring! I’ve been following your stuff for quite a whilel, but that was pretty impressive speech. I hope more people view it and share it wide.

A huge thank you and support for your work~ I was very moved at your TEDx presentation.

The IAPF in Tanzania: World Rangers Congress

The 2012 International Rangers Federation (IRF) World Rangers Congress (WRC) has come and gone and with over 260 delegates from 40 different countries, it proved to be a major success. 

 Held every 4 years, the WRC brings together rangers from all over the world to meet and discuss important conservation matters relating to rangers and their roles and responsibilities, as well as providing a forum for global networking. For the first time ever, the IAPF had the opportunity to join the WRC and take part in this year’s theme “Working towards healthy parks, dealing with hungry people”. The congress was held over 5 days at the beautiful Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, just outside of Arusha in Tanzania. Delegates were welcomed with an ample supply of food and refreshments and settled in to attend many lectures, demonstrations and workshops. 

 Australia had a great representation of rangers from across the country including South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and a lot of members from Parks Victoria and the Victorian Rangers Association (VRA). Other countries included Canada & the US, Brazil, Romania, Scotland, Iceland, Sweden, Korea and many more. Africa, of course, had a great attendance with around 60 delegates from more than 10 different countries, some as far reaching as Madagascar and Sierra Leone.

 As this congress was held in Africa, one of the subjects under heavy discussion was poaching. Although it is a global issue, most agreed that nothing can compare to the levels and dynamics of poaching experienced here. Various stories, opinions and issues were raised by many of the African delegates, from the poisoning of vultures, to the plight of the rhino and even the massacre of many endangered species such as the okapi and mountain gorilla of the Congo. A major thanks to the dedicated work of Jean-Pierre (Jobogo) Mirindi should be mentioned here. These guys face a daily war against poachers and rebels, often working tirelessly to protect these species and their protected areas. We all agreed on the need to support Jean-Pierre’s work more in the future and hope that him and his team remain safe. Keep up the good fight guys!


 It was a great experience to meet some of these rangers for the first time as well as greet plenty of familiar faces. One such face was that of Joachim Kouame from the Ivory Coast. Joachim, as some of you may remember, was caught up in the political turmoil that affected the Ivory Coast in 2011. The Thin Green Line Foundation (TGLF) and the IAPF nearly deployed an extraction team to rescue Joachim as well as a few other rangers and their families. Luckily, things calmed down enough for Joachim to make the decision to stay. To see him safe, sound and back at work again was very inspirational for us. Joachim, your endurance, commitment and bravery is the epitome of what should drive rangers everywhere.


Joachim Kouame: Ranger from the Ivory Coast. Photo: Megan Osborn

 On the final day of the congress, it was time to vote in the new IRF committee members as well as the candidates for the role of President and Vice President. As the votes were cast, it was very close but Sean Willmore from the TGLF and Wayne Lotter of the PAMS Foundation were voted in as the IRF President and Vice President respectively. Congratulations to all other committee members as well and to the VRA’s Peter Cleary for his role as Oceania representative and the Game Rangers Association of Africa’s (GRAA) Chris Galliers as African representative. Many thanks to the past IRF President Deanne Adams for her hard work and all the other past representatives who respectfully stood down after 4 great years of service to the IRF.


New IRF President Sean Willmore address the congress for the first time. Photo: Corey Jeal

As the congress wrapped up, a feeling of unity was in the air and everyone seemed eager to attend the next IRF World Congress, which will be held in Colorado, USA in 2016. We certainly hope to be there and would like to see all friends old and new once again. Special Thanks to Wayne Lotter and Krissie Clark of the PAMS Foundation for organizing and facilitating the congress, as well as the Thin Green Line Foundation for making the IAPF’s attendance possible.

Things didn’t just finish with the congress for some however. Getting on board with the IRF’s proposed “Rangers Without Borders” initiative, a small group of rangers, comprised of VRA President Peter Cleary, a ranger with the Philip Island Nature Reserve, VRA Treasurer and Conservation Biologist Megan Osborn, Ranger Corey Jeal (who some of you may know from his “Ride for Rangers” journey through Africa) and the IAPF’s James Slade, got together and joined forces with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), to assess and provide feedback on some of the area’s conservation issues.


“Rangers without Borders” pilot initiative. (l-r) Peter Cleary, Megan Osborn, James Slade, Ngorongoro Crater rangers, Fred Barak (red t-shirt, centre), Corey Jeal, Robert Mande (far right, suit.) Photo: James Slade

 This initiative was devised and facilitated by the team in order to promote the concept of “Rangers without Borders” and through the assistance of NCAA staff members Robert Mande and Fred Baraka, they where able to visit the Ngorongoro Crater and surrounding areas, witnessing first hand many of the issues faced and some of the solutions that may be implemented to address them. The full report is available to those who wish to read it. Please contact for further information. This pilot project will hopefully pave the way for similar programs in which rangers around the world may visit protected and affected areas, sharing opinions, results and tactics, solidifying the bond between those working in area integrity management everywhere.

 Finally, the IAPF would like to thank everyone again for this opportunity and we’re looking forward to what 2013 will bring to rangers from all over the world. Congratulations once again to Sean Willmore as the new IRF President, we’re eager to progress over the next 4 years and although it will be a long, hard road ahead we’re certain he’s up to the challenge.


The new International Ranger’s Federation Committee:

Top row (l-r); President Sean Willmore, Oceania rep. Peter Cleary, Vice-President Wayne Lotter, Asia rep. Kim Young Seok, Central America rep. Cesar Augusto Flores Lopez.

Bottom Row (l-r): European rep. Floran Halastauan, Treasurer Meg Weesner, African rep. Chris Galliers, North America rep. Jeff Ohlffs and Secretary Tegan Burton. Photo: Megan Osborn


International Rangers Federation 


Ranger profle – Chelepele Phiri

Ranger Chelepele Phiri

“In God we trust, in wildlife we save.” Chelepele Phiri, one of the top rangers in Victoria Falls tells his story and what it means for him

to be an IAPF ranger.

“Seven years ago I started to work as a ranger. In 2009, a huge man, Damien Mander poured his excellence into my mind, which is [like] a guidance to wildlife.”

Chelepele continues, “Animals like rhino and elephant must not get extinct, for future generations. The more wildlife, the more jobs to our children, nephews and cousins.”

Proudly, he states: “On the ground as one of the IAPF rangers, we will save the animals, but anyone, wherever you are can save the wildlife by working with us.”

Chelepele has seen the impact and change in attitudes from rangers through the involvement and dedication of our Green Army participants from overseas, as well as the useful equipment that has been donated towards our cause. The Green Army programs reminds rangers that they are not doing a thankless task, but something that is of concern to everyone.

Chelepele in action

Often, it is left up to struggling African countries to protect their wilderness areas for the rest of the world to enjoy. These wilderness

areas are of global significance and it should be a global responsibility.

With a characteristic grin, Chelepele finishes off by saying, “My favourite animal is the Zebra. Zebras cannot be affected by the weather. They are like rangers, anytime ready to go!”

Thanks Chelepele. The world needs more rangers like you!

Life, Death and Culture

Life and death can be a strange thing. Here at the IAPF we recently had the opportunity to see how the death of an animal can have an emotional, educational and cultural effect on people from very different backgrounds.

A call came out across the radio that the rangers had picked up the spoor of a wounded spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) that appeared to be moving towards a large dam. A few nights previously, we had heard the distinct sounds of fighting between hyenas but had since seen or heard nothing else. After some expert tracking by rangers John, Chelepele, Senzani and Paul, the animal was finally located.

It had sustained major injuries to its flanks, rear legs and neck. Paying little attention to us, it chose to wash its wounds in the dam and then lay in the shade. After about 45 minutes, it slowly regained some strength and began to limp off.

At this time we where unable to either treat or euthanize the hyena so all we could do was follow it and keep a close eye on its condition. It’s surprising how often an animal, which appears to be on the brink of death, can make a recovery when given a bit of time and space. However, this time it was not meant to be. The hyena lay down in a small stream (presumably to keep the flies out of its wounds and shelter it from further attack) and died just after nightfall.

The next morning we recovered the body and transported it to the Wild Horizons Wildlife Trust , where visiting vet Dr. Foggin, began work on the autopsy. During this time, the IAPF’s Green Army had a family of five from the UK/Australia visiting and they had been with us through the whole experience. We watched as the staff and volunteers of the Trust dissected and took samples from what was now determined to be a young male hyena of around 2 years old. The wounds seem to have been sustained during a fight with other hyena, most likely from another clan. There is often little space for competition, especially in a hierarchy like that of hyenas where the males sit at the bottom of the food chain. Necrosis had already settled in on the neck wounds and even had we tried to sedate it, it’s unlike that he would have survived.

A huge thanks has to go to Dr. Foggin, Roger and Jessica from the Wildlife Trust, their volunteers Becky and Anna and of course the Wright Family, whose 13-year old daughter’s interest in the whole thing was inspiring. She even managed to convince the vet to measure the hyena’s intestine, which turned out to be roughly an incredible 15 metres in length! We will now preserve the skull so it can be used here on the reserve as an educational tool and hopefully this (natural) loss of life will not be in vain.

In the end, this hyena showed everyone involved something about the world we live in. The educational aspect of showing people how hyenas are built, their incredible muscles, crushing jaws and even the stomach contents which held complete pieces of bone, including a piece of vertebrae!

The emotional aspect, as some people find the “gory” scene of an autopsy a bit much to take, especially when they saw the animal living and breathing less than 24 hours previously. Also, there is a cultural aspect, which is often lost on us. For most “Westerners”, this animal is a necessary part of the African bush and environment, one we strain our necks to observe from the back of a safari vehicle. We tend to forget that they may be held in a completely different regard for the people who were born and raised here.

In many African cultures the hyena is seen as an “evil” creature, often the messenger of the Sangoma (witchdoctor) and parts of its body hold very magical properties, especially the tail. I had to confirm with our ever-brave chef Hope and some of the rangers that the tail was indeed still attached when we collected it and that yes, after the autopsy the body would be burned. Most of the guys here did not even want to see the body and seemed visibly relieved when it was gone. These are educated and intelligent rangers, who spend everyday in the bush. I wouldn’t say they feared the hyena but once dead, they where glad to see it gone before it could “fall into the wrong hands”. In this light, is it really that much different between the way we see the use of rhino horn compared to the way it’s viewed in Asian countries such as Vietnam? Definitely food for thought.

However, whether it is indeed a witch’s steed or simply an unfortunate individual who moved into and area where he was not welcome, and paid the price, this hyena certainly had an affect on the property and all of it’s inhabitants during its short time with us.

Go well hyena, and please don’t curse our chef on the way.


‘Damned if you do & damned if you don’t’ – Legalising the Rhino Horn Trade. Episode 3

Damned if you do & damned if you don’t – Legalising the Rhino Horn Trade: Episode 2

‘Damned if you do & damned if you don’t’ – Legalising the Rhino Horn Trade: Episode 1

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