Damien Mander was a member of the Royal Australian Navy who served three years in Iraq until 2009. Then he decided to put the skills he used in the military to train people to fight against poachers in Zimbabwe. He started training men but quickly discovered that women were better suited to the work as they were better at de-escalating violent confrontations and took fewer bribes. The group, Akashinga (the brave ones), are an all-female ranger unit recruited from women who survived domestic abuse or were single mothers, abandoned wives, or orphaned by AIDS. These women have undergone training similar to those received by special forces and protect their local ecosystems from poachers.

 

Ideas for Use in the Classroom

  • Download and print the provided maps of Zimbabwe, or use MapMaker, to explore the area where Damien Mander works. 

  • Have learners read the preservation encyclopedic entry and the Conserving the Earth article. Lead a class discussion about the difference between conservation and preservation. After reading, ask: What is the difference between conservation and preservation? What area in our community would you conserve or preserve? Why?
  • Help learners become more familiar with the human geography of the continent of Africa with this article.

  • Learn more about the Black Rhinoceros with this article. Have your class write down two questions each to ask Damien about how his team prevents poaching of the black rhinoceros.

  • Watch the film The Economics of the Illicit Ivory Trade (9:00) to learn more about how supply and demand fuel this illegal industry or Partners in Elephant Conservation (1:53) to explore how local community involvement is necessary for successful conservation. 
  • Read this short article African Savanna then use the African Savanna Community Web (90 minutes) activity to help students build a community web to characterize and describe the environment, organisms, and feeding relationships of the African savanna.

abandoned
Adjective

deserted.

abuse
Verb

to treat wrongly, or in a harmful way.

AIDS
Noun

(acquired immune deficiency syndrome) disease that debilitates the immune system, making the victim vulnerable to infections.

characterize
Verb

to describe the characteristics of something.

community
Noun

social group whose members share common heritage, interests, or culture.

concept
Noun

idea.

conduct
Verb

to transmit, transport, or carry.

confrontation
Noun

open conflict.

Noun

management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

curiosity
Noun

desire to know more about a subject.

domestic
Adjective

having to do with policies or issues within a nation.

Noun

community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

empower
Verb

to give authority or power.

Noun

study of places and the relationships between people and their environments.

illegal
Adjective

forbidden by law.

influence
Noun

force that effects the actions, behavior, or policies of others.

involve
Verb

to include.

Noun

armed forces.

organism
Noun

living or once-living thing.

park ranger
Noun

person who protects and informs the public about local, state, and national parks. Also called a forest ranger.

persistent
Adjective

lasting, stubborn, or tenacious.

poach
Verb

to hunt, trap, or fish illegally.

poacher
Noun

person who hunts or fishes illegally.

Noun

protection from use.

reference
Noun

source of information or direction.

responsibility
Noun

being accountable and reliable for an action or situation.

rhinoceros
Noun

endangered animals native to Africa with leathery skin and one or two upright horns on their snout.

savanna
Noun

type of tropical grassland with scattered trees.

special forces
Noun

elite, highly trained military units, such as U.S. Navy SEALS or British SAS.

terminology
Noun

set of terms used in a specialized subject.

wildlife
Noun

organisms living in a natural environment.