Damien Mander has lived an extraordinary life for 37 years old. At 19, as a garbage collector in Melbourne, he joined the Australian Defence Force, graduating through one of the military’s most arduous courses as a Clearance Diver.
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 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
“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.
“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
“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.
How giving up everything, and breaking away from societies expectation can set you free to fulfil your true destiny
Conservation, Adventure & Leadership:
From 12 tours of Iraq and travel through more than 60 countries, Damien can recount numerous tales, lessons and methods to overcome many obstacles that life can throw at you
Destroying fear of failure:
Conquering a fear of failure to graduate through some of the world’s most arduous military selection phases can only come with the acceptance of mistakes along the way. Some fatal. These are the school fees of life, not failure
Entrepreneurial spirit & raw grit:
If you chose not to follow anyone’s dreams but your own, it will require two things above all else: The belief that your concept is different and can effect change and the refusal to give up on making it reach its full potential.
Overcoming adversity in hostile environments:
The ability to operate a multinational organisation across three continents, with multiple cultures, languages and often in a hostile environment is not an online lesson or something university can prepare us