We are proud to share the news that our Founder & CEO, Damien Mander, has joined the ranks of Sir David Attenborough and Dame Dr Jane Goodall in receiving a prestigious award from a well-known organization founded by Australian philanthropist Philip “Phil” Wollen.
Phil and his wife Trix’s initiative, the Winsome Constance Kindness Trust, exists “to campaign for Social Justice and to assist in tangible ways” through these “five fingers”: Children, animals, the environment, the terminally ill, and aspiring youth.
Below, you’ll find the official announcement followed by Damien’s acceptance letter.
We hope you’ll celebrate this recognition with us!
Trix, Damien, and Phil with elephants
Announcement from Phillip Wollen from the Winsome Constance Kindness Trust:
Each year we award a distinguished person of international standing with the Winsome Constance Kindness Gold Medal.
The award also includes a Cash Prize of $20,000.
Past recipients include some illustrious names including:
Sir David Attenborough (UK)
Professor T Colin Campbell (USA)
The Hon. Maneka Gandhi MP (India)
Dame Dr Jane Goodall (UK)
Captain Paul Watson (USA)
Dr Ian Gawler OAM (Australia)
Dr Jill Robinson MBE (China)
Dr Christine Townend (Australia)
Sri Pradeep Kumar Nath (India)
Captain Peter Hammarstedt (Sweden)
Mr Chris DeRose (USA)
Professor Dr Andrew Linzey (Oxford)
And of course others, who wished to remain private.
Trix and I are delighted to announce that, in recognition of his sterling efforts to protect endangered wildlife in Africa, and promote the vegan ethic, Damien Mander from Australia has been awarded The Winsome Constance Kindness Gold Medal and Cash Prize for 2019.
Damien is the quintessential Australian ‘bloke’.
The heavily tattooed, good-natured, gentle giant, a former hunter, poacher, navy diver, special operations sniper and mercenary of the Iraq War set up the International Anti-Poaching Foundation IAPF in 2009.
IAPF’s innovative programs bring men, women, veganism and economics to the front lines of African conservation; creating an alternative, workable economic model to the trophy hunting industry. Its aim is to end wildlife poaching in Africa.
This model is a pioneering move in rural Africa, empowering not only the most determined and capable of warriors, but protecting critical ecosystems which are home to millions of non-human sentient beings.
Trix and I have visited Damien in South Africa, and the team of his IAPF rangers, officers and tracker dogs on the ground at the Operations Centre in Mozambique.
We have provided funding and promotion for IAPF’s work and have spoken on behalf of Damien and IAPF at public events in Australia, the USA, India, Belgium and Germany.
We have also had the great pleasure of hosting the Mander family at our home and at Kindness House.
In the process we have got to know Damien’s delightful wife Maria, their wonderful son Leo. (We have yet to meet the latest arrival, a bundle of joy named Eva).
I am sure you will agree resoundingly that Damien is a most worthy recipient of this prestigious award and join us in congratulating and supporting Damien in his exemplary work.
Philip and Trix Wollen
Damien’s Acceptance Letter:
Phillip & Trixie Wollen
c/o Kindness House
288 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy, Victoria 3065
+61 412 362 316
January 9, 2019
ACCEPTANCE LETTER OF THE WINSOME CONSTANCE KINDNESS GOLD MEDAL FOR 2019
Dear Phil and Trix,
To accept the Winsome Constance Kindness Gold Medal for 2019 is the greatest of honours. Thank you. Across the various industries of animal protection, there are many people I look up to for inspiration. Phil and Trix, you sit right up there on that list. You both help make the world more just.
As the head of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), the public stance I have taken about all animals and not just the wild ones has cost us funding, grants and sometimes exclusion. I know this, and remain unwavering because the truth is not for sale and it never will be. Thank you for recognising and supporting this position.
On reflection, the bravest and most distinguished action of my life was the choice to go vegan. It shifted my perception of everything. It opened my eyes and my conscience, giving me a new level of motivation to fight for what is right. I recall a talk by you in 2012 Phil. Your voice helped me to understand the hypocrisy of my own actions. I was protecting one group of animals, and eating another, while telling people I loved them and cared about the environment. In my mind I was suppressing the truth from my most important and relentlessly never silent critic – myself. Thank you.
Your own transition helped me to peel back the cloak of convenience from my own outlook on the world. The cold shoulder to my integrity. Conservation encompasses the intertwined tapestry of nature we call biodiversity, upon which our future as a species and civilization as a whole is directly interlinked.
As you know, one of biggest threats to the conservation of this natural world is the meat industry. I aspire that the conservation industry at large will one day wake up and acknowledge this as one of our greatest battles. As an industry that fights so hard for animals and the environment, it makes sense that conservationists should be leading the pack. To be genuine to my work, I had to take my work home, to the dining table. As we dig the grave of our times with our teeth, one must either wonder what the headstone of humankind will read, or take action.
As you have both witnessed first hand, the brave rangers we train and support at the IAPF risk their lives everyday, out there on the front lines, protecting the natural world and the millions of sentient beings that inhabit these areas. They carry weapons. They are away from their families. It is a hard and often lonely passion. The role of the rest of society in protecting the natural world need not be so risky. It starts at home, where the easiest way to protect an animal, is to simply not eat it.
If we have any genuine concern for the future we leave our children, or the life of any animal, whose eyes we searched into and would not be able to kill ourselves, then it is time for society as a whole to question our principles. To realize that personal desire for taste,
clothing, sport or decoration is not more important than an innocent beings life. Desires should not have victims. They are not a statistic. They are not a meal. They are not a trinket. They are a tragedy of suffering which we’ll one day recoil in horror at the most ungodliness of genocides across the widest breadth of our universe. I’m not religious, but there is something out there greater than us. We are the only species to create the concept of a higher being, and the only species to defile the very notion of what that spirituality is meant to represent. There is no greater force that would look upon the suffering we as a single species cause, on over 100 billion animals per year, and agree that the excuses we make for the actions we inflict, could ever be justified.
Bravery comes in many forms, and joining a fight for the future of civilization and those that die by the billions is a most worthwhile struggle to sign up for. Thank you for being leaders in spreading this message.
Within your company, and the many other inspirational people in our collective movement, transformation is upon us. It feels good to be on the right side of history. Perhaps I’m just connecting with too many optimistic or aware people – but I’ve got to say, I’m positive. Despite the oceans and forests being destroyed, the countless animals killed each year, the atmosphere we are trying our hardest to fry and the wars we wage, I’m positive.
Unlike nature’s evolutionary journey forward over billions of years, we as individuals have only a simple lifetime to grow. To make the most of ourselves and our opportunities. I’m increasingly engaged with such warriors as yourself who view success not as what they can make or take, but what they can do for others and leave behind. We know there are small bits of satisfaction that come from digging in and doing often thankless tasks for something greater than oneself. Those collective small actions make up self worth.
Thank you for believing in me, the work we do and our incredible team and supporters, without whom, we could not carry on. Thank you for helping to make to world a positive place, when there are so many reasons we should be down. We certainly have an uphill battle on our hands fixing the future we have sketched. But crisis is great – It kicks us all into gear.
I will be donating the $20,000 prize money back to the IAPF, and in particular, to the women of Akashinga.
Thank you Phil & Trix. Dear friends. Inspiration. Admiration.
The relentless and dogged march towards justice continues.
Founder & CEO
International Anti-Poaching Foundation