Durban. The activists on the frontline of Africa’s conservation kept the audience captivated at Durban Country Club on Wednesday, 7 August as the founder of International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), Damien Mander, and anti-poaching squad leader, Vimbai Kumire, shared their stories with the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). This annual EO event, attended by 60 members, spouses, and guests, celebrated the work being done by women in conservation in honor of Women’s Month.
“It was such an eye-opening experience to learn, first-hand, about the life-threatening work being done by these courageous rangers all across Africa,” said Tarryn Tait, Marketing and Communications Chair. “The establishment of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation is an incredible example of the impact entrepreneurs are making in this domain, and the success of Africa’s first all-female anti-poaching unit shows the influence women can have when given the opportunity.”
Having served as a clearance driver and special operations’ sniper in the Australian Defence Force, Damien Mander was deployed to Iraq where he managed the Iraq Special Police Training Academy. In 2009, while traveling through Africa, Damien encountered the horrors facing Africa’s natural world and, drawing on his military experience, he established the IAPF.
Starting with basic training for rangers, IAPF eventually built large operations with direct-action focus and, in 2017, IAPF took a primarily community approach to law enforcement and conservation. With Dr. Jane Goodall as a patron, IAPF now has a presence in four countries, having trained or supported rangers who protect more than 6 million acres of wilderness daily.
One of the IAPF’s major contributions was the establishment of Akashinga (the brave ones) – one of Africa’s all-female anti-poaching units based in the Zambezi valley. Realizing women were the missing link in successful conservation initiatives and basing the model on South Africa’s Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit, IAPF educated and trained marginalized women from rural communities to be rangers and biodiversity managers. Through this model, IAPF has been empowering women and the local communities while replacing trophy hunting with conservation.
The EO audience got to hear from both Damien Mander and Vimbai Kumire, the Squad Leader of Akashinga Ranger Team One.
EO is the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs and assists in development through peer-to-peer learning and establishing connections with experts. Membership – through an application process – is open to entrepreneurs whose businesses have a turnover of more than US$1 million and are founders, co-founders or majority shareholders of their business.
EO has a global footprint in more than 57 countries with the Durban chapter established in 2015, now boasting 45 members. The forums meet monthly where members share key issues and establish goals to be achieved over the next 30 to 60 days.