It’s truly inspiring to participate in initiatives that support conservation and communities, while simultaneously harnessing the power of creative fire. Just such a scenario played out this week at Beaulieu Preparatory School in Johannesburg. The special people there had invited Damien Mander, founding director and chairman of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation, to share a presentation about his organization’s exceptional work – especially with regard to rhino – and to accept a donation from the school on its behalf.
Given the massive scale of illegal wildlife trafficking across the globe, the IAPF’s mission is not only urgent but critical. Their highly skilled, dynamic team “meets this challenge head on by logically tackling the economic, social and ecological issues associated with environmental threats.” They are led by Damien, who has extensive military experience, having served in the Royal Australian Navy and Special Operations unit within the Australian Army, as well as spending three years serving in Iraq. In addition to working closely with other conservation organizations, the team is dedicated to assertive action and specialist training – something for which they are superbly equipped and at which they excel.
In line with the fact that community welfare is integral to successful conservation efforts, the IAPF has teamed up with Jason Hartman, joint 2009 SA Idols winner – a wildly talented and accomplished singer songwriter, actor and passionate conservationist. For many years, Jason has contributed significantly to community upliftment through the creation of sustainable vegetable gardens and planting of trees. His own charity is Men of the Trees, part of an international organisation with branches all over the world. He also recently launched Conservation Guardians with several global board members, in order to support anti-poaching – in particular of rhino – and other environmental issues in Southern Africa.
Jason’s musical success includes a number of hit singles, opening for Kelly Clarkson, the original American Idol, in March 2010, as well as opening for The Eagles during HRH Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock’s wedding celebrations in Monaco, and playing live at the Grand Prix there. He also starred in A Million Colours, follow-up to the famous 1970′s e’Lollipop movie, released in September 2011 at the Toronto Film Festival. Shortly afterwards, A Million Colours opened the Hollywood Black Film Festival in LA, as the first foreign film to do so.
Thus it was no surprise that the beautiful children at Beaulieu Prep were enchanted by Jason singing for them, as well as captivated by Damien’s vivid accounts of very real anti-poaching action. Apart from capturing this special event in stills and video, Dave and I contributed some of our own rhino footage, in the form of a message from Smurf, the six week old rhino calf pictured below 🙂
The resounding conclusion is that, working hand in hand, we can definitely make a positive difference. If you’d like to discover how you can help, then please follow the links above to find out more. Thank you for caring!