Meet Damien Mander. 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 TV movie 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.
Enter the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF). After leaving his military career in 2008, Mander was eventually given the opportunity to work with an anti-poaching unit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Mander went on to set up his own foundation when he saw how poorly equipped and trained most rangers were, and realised how useful his expertise could be in the war against poaching. He freely admits that he is short on experience when it comes wildlife management, but says his military background has served him well, “Whilst the scenario is a little bit different here than it is in Baghdad, a lot of the principles are the same. It’s the frontline.”
I was engaged by the IAPF to provide them with photographs that could be used for promotional, fundraising and media purposes and spent several months in 2011 documenting their activities. The following images represent a selection of that work.
All images © Davina Jogi/IAPF