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Anti Poaching in Zim

LESSONS FROM BAGHDAD:
The International Anti-Poaching Foundation on the frontline in Zimbabwe

Davina Jogi

The illegal trafficking of wildlife currently accounts for a global trade of an estimated $20 billion per year. In South Africa, where organized criminal syndicates have begun to drive the trade, rhino poaching has exploded – nearly 200 have been reported killed in the first six months of 2011, representing more than one a day. As the SANDF steps in to protect Kruger’s rhinos, the epicenter of South Africa’s poaching outbreak, and the government considers legalising the sale of horn in an attempt to control the illicit trade, something a little different is going on in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Enter Damien Mander and the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF). Thirty-one, six-foot-something, tattooed, ex-Royal Australian Navy clearance diver/Special Forces commando/private security contractor, Mander seems to have been written for a late night M-net Action special. He’s big, bolshie, crass and delightfully full of it, but Mander has managed to avoid what would certainly be a successful future in bad television, instead, turning his military experience in the Middle East towards a more useful pursuit – conservation.

After Mander completed a security contract to train the Iraqi police in 2008, he took a year off travelling, eventually heading to South Africa to try get a foot in the door with an anti-poaching unit. Mander confesses it was a personal mission; he was off to save Africa’s wildlife. But he travelled to conservancies and reserves across southern...

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