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February 28th, 2024 Mature Content

From Military Sniper to Anti-Poaching, Vegan Conservationist with Damien Mander

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  1. From Military Sniper to Anti-Poaching, Vegan Conservationist with Damien Mander Carly Puch 43:09

This is a replay of episode 96 with Damian Mander, originally aired on August 11, 2021.

Prepare to be riveted by the extraordinary saga of Damien Mander, a former military sniper turned vegan anti-poaching crusader, as he shares the intimate details of his harrowing journey from the battlefield to the front lines of wildlife conservation. Damien’s raw account of grappling with the aftermath of military life, his descent into substance abuse, and the profound epiphany that led him to Africa reveals a man reborn with a fierce determination to defend the voiceless. Our conversation traverses the emotional landscape of his transformation, a stirring testament to the power of second chances and the indomitable human spirit to affect real, tangible change in the world.

This episode is an evocative expedition into the heart of conservation, where Damien has dismantled the status quo by championing women’s empowerment through the groundbreaking Akashinga program. Venture behind the scenes of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) with us, as we explore how this visionary initiative is reshaping the narrative of environmental stewardship. Discover how placing women at the helm is not only revolutionizing the field of conservation but also knitting together the fabric of local communities by weaving gender equality, job creation, and sustainable development into a cohesive strategy for lasting impact.

Guest Bio:

Australian-born Damien is an Iraq war veteran who served as a Naval clearance diver and Special Operations sniper for Australia. In 2009 while traveling 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 defense for nature.

Over the past decade, the IAPF has scaled to train and support rangers which now help protect over 20 million acres of the African wilderness. In 2017 Damien founded ‘Akashinga – Nature Protected by Women’, an IAPF program that has already grown to over 240 employees with 8 nature reserves in the portfolio. They are the only group of nature reserves in the world to be protected by women. Their goal is to employ 1000 women by 2026, protecting a network of 20 nature reserves.

He is the winner of the 2019 Winsome Constance Kindness Gold Medal, a prestigious international recognition for services to animals and humans. Past recipients include Sir David Attenborough and Dr. Jane Goodall. He was featured in The Game Changers by Academy Award-winning director James Cameron and has now released another documentary with Cameron and National Geographic about his work with the women of Akashinga. He is a resident speaker for National Geographic and was featured in their magazine in 2019, has spoken at the United Nations, appeared three times on 60 Minutes, and was recognized by the Dutch Government as a Gender Champion. To hear bonus footage with Damian & Carly check out Patreon! 

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Music by Matthew Baxley

As I stumbled through the perils of answering the ultimate question, "what do you want to do with your life?" I knew somehow my answer would incorporate helping others. This translated into paths that, when I tuned into the universe, I realized were very connected. (Funny how that always happens!)

People are complicated, messy, and layered with identities. So is this space. I am a meditation enthusiast that sits in quietness every morning and a lover of blasting 90's hip-hop at full volume. I'm a gym rat and a yoga instructor. I am both learner and a teacher. We are all many things. Together we can make them all work.

I love to share all the things I'm learning along the way. Learning how to be your most fabulous self but being honest about how damn hard and messy it can be along the way lets you speak your truth. It allows you to best use your voice for the causes that matter to you. Let's get healthy and change the world together!

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