Known as the “Conservation Rambo”, Mr Mander said he had always been mindful about extinction facing certain wildlife.
After serving three years on the frontline in Iraq, Mr Mander travelled to Africa in February 2009.
The 30-year-old trekked through five countries to help stop the poaching of endangered animals such as elephants and the black rhino.
Finally an anti-poaching unit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, agreed to let Mr Mander train them using his nine years of military expertise with the Australian army special operations unit and the Royal Australian Navy.
But his first time seeing the carnage of an elephant butchered for its tusk changed his life forever.
“It just flicked a switch inside me and that was it,” Mr Mander said.
“To me it didn’t seem like there was another option.”
He immediately put his house in Australia on the market and used all his savings to create the International Anti-Poaching Foundation.
“It was an absolute slap in the face seeing the problem of poaching and just the distinct lack of resources.”
The eco-warrior is aware of the dangers but says: “It’s something I’m happy to put my life on the line for every day.”
“I think it’s our responsibility as a generation to make sure these animals are still going to be there for our children.”
For more information visit iapf.org