'Anti-Poacher' Has Saved Huge Populations of Elephants and Rhinos From Slaughter | 22 Words

You would think that by the year 2019, humans would have learned that violence is not the answer to everything. But no. There are people out there who are still running around, murdering defenseless animals and then cowardly attempting to justify it by calling it a "sport." Sorry, but if you want to engage in that kind of cruel activity, just own the title of a killer and move on.

But it's people like Damien Mander who have dedicated their lives to sorting out the global poaching problem. He deserves a medal for his efforts.

Check out what he's done in order to protect animals in the wild.

Warning: I must warn you that this article contains some disturbing images.

via: Getty

Trophy hunting is the killing of wild animals for human pleasure. Some even refer to it as a "sport." The animals are often bred in captivity and are released into a fenced-off area where they are cornered in and gunned down by hunters.

These animals are actually bred to be hunted.

via: Getty

Across Africa, there are hundreds of breeding facilities that churn out thousands of innocent animals to be hunted. The animals involved are habituated from an early age, often through being hand-reared and bottle-fed, so that they are no longer naturally fearful of people, making them easy targets for a rifle or bow when it comes to the hunt.

This is the main reason that many travel abroad to hunt.

via: Shutterstock

Because here in the U.S. deer hunting is the most extreme that regulated and legal animal hunting will get. For the big "macho" hunters out there, deers are seen as child's play; many hunters want to take on larger, more dangerous animals to feed their nasty habit.

Though partaking in the sport comes with a hefty price tag.

via: Shutterstock

Keen hunters have been known to fork out tens of thousands of dollars just to corner an innocent and frightened animal and shoot it dead. What kind of satisfaction they get from it, I will never know.

The average price to hunt a lion in Africa is around $20,000, whereas an elephant can cost as much as $40,000.

via: Getty

That makes trophy hunting a booming business. The industry employs ranchers, outfitters, professional hunters, gun manufacturers, and taxidermists alike. People with time, money, and a lack of sanity to ensure the business keeps on giving.

Some hunters try to justify their spending...

The hunters claim that they're helping to fund "conservation efforts" with the money that they pay to hunt. However, I think that's just an excuse to keep on killing. What's the point breeding animals only to kill them? You aren't adding to anything.

Some hunters claim to help endangered species with their hunting.

via: CNN

Back in January 2014, Corey Knowlton from Dallas, bid $350,000 for a permit to hunt and kill a then-endangered black rhino in Namibia. "I felt like from day one it was something benefiting the black rhino," Knowlton told CNN. "Being on this hunt, with the amount of criticism it brought and the amount of praise it brought from both sides, I don't think it could have brought more awareness to the black rhino."

And guess what?

via: Shuterstock

The Black Rhino is now fully extinct, with poaching and hunting being the primary factors to the species' decline. No one will ever see a Black Rhino ever again because these hunters couldn't help but pull a trigger. Wow.

People have long protested the act of trophy hunting and poaching.

via: Getty

Because, thankfully, we're not all barbaric monsters on this planet.

And even celebrities have voiced their disgust at the activity...

British comedian and actor, Ricky Gervais, has always been incredibly vocal on his stance about animal rights. In this tweet, Ricky expresses his utter repulsion over the way that rich hunters not only kill innocent animals but exploit the needs of the poor.

Though this hasn't stopped hunters from proudly displaying their "trophies."

Perhaps the most barbaric part of all this is the all-important "trophy selfie" that hunters have got into the habit of taking. Once they've killed the animal, they position the corpse into a pose that they see fit and stand proudly next to (or sometimes on top of) their kill.

The photos are the most talked-about aspect of this kind of activity.

Because what could be more normal than slaughtering a defenseless animal and then posing for a picture next to its corpse, right?

Remember when these British hunters have taken things to a whole new level?

via: Shutterstock

They decided they wanted to post a whole collection of photos showing them smiling beside the corpses of vulnerable zebras as if it is something to be proud of. I mean, how else would you like to spend a good ol' Sunday evening?

Zebras have recently been classified as vulnerable on the International Union of the Conservation of Nature's list.

via: Shutterstock

Approximately 3 years ago, we were all shocked to learn that alongside other wild animals, the number of zebras was also declining at a quicker rate than expected. The population dropped almost twenty-four percent over the past decade or so.

And if that's not alarming enough, we have trophy hunters such as these emerging from the bushes.

via: Hunter Hills

Because the animal is not illegal to hunt on the plains of South Africa, this group decided that they would go to the area and slaughter as many as they could.

Thankfully, it's people like Damien Mander, an "anti-poacher", who are putting a stop to this behaviour.

The Australian was an Australian Navy Clearance Diver and special operations sniper in the Army's Special Forces 2nd Commando Regiment before he was deployed in Iraq for 3 years.

After completing his time there, he has now dedicated his life to being an "anti-poaching activist."

It all started with a 6-month trip to Africa, where he was fully introduced to the horrors of poaching.

He was inspired by the rangers there.

The forty-year-old told LADbible this: "When I traveled around the continent, I was inspired by the work that the rangers were doing."

He continued:

"They have something really worthwhile fighting for: giving up everything, being away from their family for so long each year defending the natural world. I had just come from Iraq where we were looking after dotted lines on a map and resources in the ground and it made me reflect on who I was as a person."

He's already traveled through many countries in Africa.

He's toured through South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe and now he's fallen in love with protecting animals. Mander spends all his time and money making sure this cruelty is minimized.

He's even gone as far as selling everything he has.

All his investment properties have been sold and he's now poured the money into creating the International Anti-Poaching Foundation and a ranger training academy in Zimbabwe.

This is what he had to say about the issue:

"Beyond the guns and ammo are the lessons I learned in Iraq that have really been the biggest benefit to what we do."

The foundation helps to equip individuals with the skills they need to be on the front line.

"The ability to get the local population on side, get the hearts and minds, that's more important than anything else and it's something that we completely failed at in Iraq. We're able to take those failures from Iraq and turn them into a positive."

And because of Mander's work, rhino poaching in the area has dropped.

Overall, they have seen the numbers of poachers reduce by up to 90% and eventually, they were able to stop the perpetrators from coming to the region in Mozambique altogether.

"The rate of incursions of poachers into Kruger National Park, about 75% of those were attributed as coming from Mozambique into Kruger and with the operations established on that side of the border, that dropped to around 30%," Mander said. "We got a lot of credit for that, got a lot of kudos."

However, it's been a long and difficult battle:

"We had helicopters, drones, canine attack teams, military-grade hardware [but] we had this ongoing conflict with the local population and while we might have won that battle overall, what we were doing was not sustainable."

He also added this:

"We were saving rhinos and we were having a war with the local population on a continent that is going to have two billion people on it by 2040."

As well as the rhino population, they also managed to help reduce poaching elephant numbers.

"The data we've got, we've been able to see 80% reduction in elephant poaching across this region of the Zambezi Valley and, again, we can't take full credit for that but the amount of arrests we're making and work we're doing in the communities is attributed towards that impact."

He had one final message for everyone.

"We are one of millions of species on this planet but we're the only one that determines what level of suffering and destruction is acceptable for all others. [Next] it'll be us going extinct."

He damnded we take action now.

"We need to decide if we want to be part of the future and if we do, we need to make changes." Keep scrolling if you want to read more about how dangerous hunting can really be.