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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.

Use the resources in this collection to prepare your students for his upcoming National Geographic Live! student matinee experience. Use the “Before the show” ideas to introduce students to Damien Mander and the topics (poaching, conservation, ecosystem, wildlife) that he will discuss during the show. Use the “After the show” ideas to extend the learning after the event has ended. 

Before the Show:

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

  • Have students 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 students 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.

  • As a class, 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 (1 hour, 30 minutes) activity to help students build a community web to characterize and describe the environment, organisms, and feeding relationships of the African savanna.

  • Provide each student with a KWL Chart. Introduce the program they will attend and, who the speaker is, and offer a brief description of the speaker’s topic(s). Have students fill out the What I Know and What I Want to Know columns of the KWL Chart. Have them fill out the What I Learned column after the show.

  • Use the Graphic Organizer Collection to select a graphic organizer to help your students organize their questions and new knowledge before, during, and after the program. For example: 

    • Download and print the T Chart. Have students label the left column with Questions I Have and the right column with Answers, and then conduct research about the speaker and their topic ahead of the program. Have students record answers to their questions during or after the program. Have students conduct research to complete any unanswered questions for homework. Have each student share a question and answer with the class. 

    • Download and print the provided Five Ws Chart. Have each student bring their copy to the matinee program and take notes. Have students share and discuss their notes after the show.

 After the Show:

  • Use the Explorer Comparisons worksheet and have a class discussion to help students make connections between themselves and Damien Mander. Distribute the worksheet to students before the presentation and review the directions with them. Review any terms with which they are unfamiliar with. After the presentation, have students share the notes that they took during the show. Have a class discussion about attitudes and skills and how students demonstrate them in their everyday lives. Have students record their personal examples on the worksheet.

  • Review the continents, countries, or areas that the speaker presented. Ask: What continents, countries, or areas does the speaker work in? Have younger students imagine that these places were characters in the stories that Damien Mander shared. Ask: What role did place play in Damien Mander’s story? Why was location important to the story? How did the characteristics of the place influence the story? Note: You may need to introduce the concept of place for your students before they can answer and discuss these questions. 

  • Discuss and define any unfamiliar terminology that the speaker used. Ask: What vocabulary words did Damien Mander use that were new to you? Invite volunteers to write the words on the board, and have the class define them as a group using the information they learned from the speaker or through research. If desired, have students record unfamiliar terminology during the show on one-half of a T Chart. Then, have them write the definitions on the other side following this class discussion.

  • Have a class discussion about the attitudes National Geographic explorers embody. Ask: What attitudes did Damien Mander talk about today? In what ways does Damien Mander demonstrate curiosity, responsibility, empowerment, and persistence in his work? Why do you think these attitudes are important for explorers? Students can use their Five Ws Chart for reference and a graphic organizer to organize their ideas.

  • Have a whole-class brainstorm on how students can make changes or support the speakers’ work. Ask: What, if any, call to action did the speakers make? How can you implement any changes in your day-to-day life? What can we work on together as a group?

abandoned
Adjective

deserted.

abandoned
Adjective

deserted.

abuse
Verb

to treat wrongly, or in a harmful way.

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.

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.

characterize
Verb

to describe the characteristics of something.

community
Noun

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

community
Noun

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

concept
Noun

idea.

conduct
Verb

to transmit, transport, or carry.

conduct
Verb

to transmit, transport, or carry.

confrontation
Noun

open conflict.

confrontation
Noun

open conflict.

Noun

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

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.

domestic
Adjective

having to do with policies or issues within a nation.

Noun

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

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.

Noun

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

illegal
Adjective

forbidden by law.

illegal
Adjective

forbidden by law.

influence
Noun

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

involve
Verb

to include.

involve
Verb

to include.

military
Noun

armed forces.

military
Noun

armed forces.

organism
Noun

living or once-living thing.

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.

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.

poacher
Noun

person who hunts or fishes illegally.

Noun

protection from use.

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.

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.

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.

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.