Founder & CEO of the International Anti Poaching Foundation Damien Mander has won a Winsome Constance Kindness Trust Gold Medal and prize for his work in Africa.
Australian philanthropist Phil Wollen and his wife Trix’s initiative, the Winsome Constance Kindness Trust, exists “to campaign for Social Justice and to assist in tangible ways” through the ‘five fingers’, children, animals, the environment, the terminally ill, and aspiring youth.
Mr Wollen said, Damien Mander, the heavily tattooed, good-natured, gentle giant, former hunter, poacher, navy diver, special operations sniper and mercenary of the Iraq War set up the IAPF in 2009 to bring men, women, veganism and economics to the front lines of African conservation, creating an alternative, workable economic model to the trophy hunting industry.
“Trix and I are delighted to announce that, in recognition of his sterling efforts to protect endangered wildlife in Africa, and promote the vegan ethic, Damien Mander from Australia has been awarded The Winsome Constance Kindness Gold Medal and Cash Prize for 2019,” Mr Wollen said.
“IAPF’s innovative programs bring men, women, veganism and economics to the front lines of African conservation; creating an alternative, workable economic model to the trophy hunting industry. Its aim is to end wildlife poaching in Africa.
“This model is a pioneering move in rural Africa, empowering not only the most determined and capable of warriors, but protecting critical ecosystems which are home to millions of non-human sentient beings.
“Trix and I have visited Damien in South Africa, and the team of his IAPF rangers, officers and tracker dogs on the ground at the Operations Centre in Mozambique.
“We have provided funding and promotion for IAPF’s work and have spoken on behalf of Damien and IAPF at public events in Australia, the USA, India, Belgium and Germany.
“We have also had the great pleasure of hosting the Mander family at our home and at Kindness House.
“In the process we have got to know Damien’s delightful wife Maria, their wonderful son Leo. We have yet to meet the latest arrival, a bundle of joy named Eva.
“I am sure you will agree resoundingly that Damien is a most worthy recipient of this prestigious award and join us in congratulating and supporting Damien in his exemplary work.”
In accepting the award, Damien Mander said the public stance he had taken about all animals, not just the wild ones, had cost the IAPF funding, grants and sometimes exclusion and thanked the Wollens for recognising and supporting that position.
“Thank you for believing in me, the work we do and our incredible team and supporters, without whom, we could not carry on,” Mr Mander said.
“Thank you for helping to make the world a positive place, when there are so many reasons we should be down.
“We certainly have an uphill battle on our hands fixing the future we have sketched.
“But crisis is great – it kicks us all into gear.
“I will be donating the $20,000 prize money back to the IAPF, and in particular, to the women of Akashinga.”
Damien Mander joins other notable recipients of the Winsome Constance Kindness Trust Gold Medal…
Sir David Attenborough (UK)
Professor T Colin Campbell (USA)
The Hon. Maneka Gandhi MP (India)
Dame Dr Jane Goodall (UK)
Captain Paul Watson (USA)
Dr Ian Gawler OAM (Australia)
Dr Jill Robinson MBE (China)
Dr Christine Townend (Australia)
Sri Pradeep Kumar Nath (India)
Captain Peter Hammarstedt (Sweden)
Mr Chris DeRose (USA)
Professor Dr Andrew Linzey (Oxford)
And others who wish to remain private.