Akashinga: The Brave Ones
- Damien Mander, Conservationist
- Vimbai Kumire, Ranger
Damien Mander spent his early 20s in the Royal Australian Navy, risking his life to protect others—first as a Naval clearance diver, then as a special operations sniper in an elite hostage recovery unit. By 2009, burned out after three years in Iraq, he bought a one-way ticket to Africa for his next mission: applying military solutions to the fight against poachers. Instead, he found himself forming the first all-female ranger unit in Zimbabwe: Akashinga (“the brave ones”).
The recruits were survivors of domestic violence, single mothers, abandoned wives, and AIDS orphans. One remarkable recruit—Vimbai Kumire—grew up in poverty in rural Zimbabwe, where she was the youngest of eight children and dreamed of securing a better future for herself. Over the course of her time in the unit, she displayed such grit, discipline, and leadership that she was promoted to Sergeant and Squad Leader of Akashinga Ranger Team One.
Join Mander and Kumire as they share how their unique personal journeys converged in pursuit of a common goal—protecting Africa’s wildlife for future generations.
About the speakers
- Former Australian Naval Clearance Diver and Special Operations Sniper
- Founded the International Anti-Poaching Foundation
- Awarded the Windsome Constance Kindness Gold Medal in 2019
- Sergeant and Squad Leader of Akashinga Ranger Team One
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