Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • My story begins in Zimbabwe

  • with a brave park ranger named Orpheus

  • and an injured buffalo.

  • And Orpheus looked at the buffalo on the ground, and he looked at me,

  • and as our eyes met, there was an unspoken grief between the three of us.

  • She was a beautifully wild and innocent creature,

  • and Orpheus lifted the muzzle of his rifle to her ear. (Gunshot)

  • And at that moment, she started to give birth.

  • As life slipped from the premature calf, we examined the injuries.

  • Her back leg had been caught in an eight-strand wire snare.

  • She'd fought for freedom [for] so hard and so long

  • that she'd ripped her pelvis in half.

  • Well, she was finally free.

  • Ladies and gentlemen, today I feel a great sense of responsibility

  • in speaking to you on behalf of those that never could.

  • Their suffering is my grief, is my motivation.

  • Martin Luther King best summarises my call to arms here today.

  • He said, "There comes a time when one must take a position that's neither safe,

  • nor politic, nor popular.

  • But he must take that position because his conscience tells him that it's right."

  • Because his conscience tells him it is right.

  • At the end of this talk I'm gonna ask you all a question.

  • That question is the only reason I traveled here today

  • all the way from the African savanna.

  • That question for me has cleansed my soul.

  • How you answer that question will always be yours.

  • I remember watching the movie The Wizard of Oz as a young kid,

  • and I was never scared of the witch or the flying monkeys.

  • My greatest fear was that I'd grow up like the Lion, without courage.

  • And I grew up always asking myself if I thought I'd be brave?

  • Well, years after Dorothy had made her way back to Kansas,

  • and the Lion had found his courage,

  • I walked into a tattoo parlor and had the words

  • 'Seek and Destroy' tattooed across my chest.

  • And I thought that'd make me big and brave.

  • But it'd take me almost a decade to grow into those words.

  • By the age of 20 I'd become a clearance diver in the navy.

  • By 25, as a special operations sniper,

  • I knew exactly how many clicks of elevation I needed on the scope of my rifle

  • to take a headshot on a moving target from 700m away.

  • I knew exactly how many grams of high explosives it takes

  • to blast through a steel plate door from only a few meters away,

  • without blowing myself, or my team, up behind me.

  • And I knew that Baghdad was a shitty place, and when things go bang,

  • well, people die.

  • Now back then, I'd no idea what a conservationist did,

  • other than hug trees and piss off large corporations. (Laughter)

  • I knew they had dreadlocks. I knew they smoked dope. (Laughter)

  • I didn't really give a shit about the environment, and why should I?

  • I was the idiot that used to speed up in his car just trying to hit birds on the road.

  • My life was a world away from conservation.

  • I'd just spent nine years doing things in real life

  • most people wouldn't dream of trying on a Playstation.

  • Well, after 12 tours to Iraq as a so-called 'mercenary', the skills I had were good for one thing:

  • I was programmed to destroy.

  • Looking back now, on everything I've done, and the places I've been,

  • in my heart, I've only ever performed one true act of bravery.

  • And that was a simple choice of deciding 'Yes' or deciding 'No'.

  • But it was that one act which defines me completely

  • and ensures there'll never be separation between who I am, and what I do.

  • When I finally left Iraq behind me I was lost.

  • Yeah I feltahh – I just had no idea where I was going in life

  • or where I was meant to be and I arrived in Africa at the beginning of 2009.

  • I was aged 29 at the time.

  • Somehow, I always knew I'd find a purpose amongst chaos,

  • and that's exactly what happened.

  • I'd no idea though, I'd find it in a remote part of the Zimbabwe bush.

  • And we were patrolling along, and the vultures circled in the air

  • and as we got closer the stench of death hung there, in the air like a thick, dark veil,

  • and sucked the oxygen out of your lungs.

  • And as we got closer, there was a great bull elephant,

  • resting on its side, with its face cut away.

  • And the world around me stopped.

  • I was consumed by a deep and overwhelming sadness.

  • Seeing innocent creatures killed like this hit me in a way like nothing before.

  • I'd actually poached as a teenager and they're memories I'll take to the grave.

  • Time had changed me though; something inside wasn't the same.

  • And it's never gonna be again.

  • I asked myself, "Does that elephant need its face

  • more than some guy in Asia needs a tusk on his desk?"

  • Well of course it bloody does, that was irrelevant.

  • All that mattered there and then was:

  • Would I be brave enough to give up everything in my life

  • to try and stop the suffering of animals?

  • This was the one true defining moment of my life:

  • Yes or no?

  • I contacted my family the next day and began selling all my houses.

  • These are assets a well-advised mercenary quickly acquires with the proceeds of war.

  • My life-savings have since been used to found and grow

  • the International Anti-Poaching Foundation.

  • The IAPF is a direct-action, law enforcement organization.

  • From drone technology, to an international qualification for rangers,

  • we're battling each and every day to bring military solutions

  • to conservation's thin green line.

  • Now my story may be slightly unique,

  • but I'm not going to use it to talk to you today about the organization I run --

  • in what probably could have been a pretty good fundraiser.

  • (Laughter) (Applause)

  • Remember, today is about the question I'm gonna ask you at the end.

  • Because it's impossible for me to get up here and talk about just saving wildlife

  • when I know the problem of animal welfare is much broader throughout society.

  • A few years after I saw that elephant I woke up very early one morning.

  • I already knew the answer to the question I was about to ask myself,

  • but it was the first time I'd put it into words:

  • Does a cow value its life more than I enjoy a barbecue?

  • See, I'd been guilty all this time of what's termed 'speciesism'.

  • Speciesism is very much the same as racism or sexism.

  • It involves the allocation of a different set of values,

  • rights or special considerations to individuals,

  • based solely on who or what they are.

  • The realisation of the flexible morality

  • I'd used to suit my everyday conveniences made me sick in the stomach.

  • See, I'd loved blaming parts of Asia for their insatiable demand for ivory and rhino horn,

  • and the way the region's booming economic growth

  • is dramatically increasing the illegal wildlife trade.

  • When I woke up that morning though I realised,

  • even though I'd dedicated my life to saving animals,

  • in my mind I was no better than a poacher,

  • or the guy in Asia with a tusk on his desk.

  • As this 'over-consumptive meat-eater' I'd referred to some animals as 'beasts'.

  • When in reality I'd been the beast: destructively obedient,

  • a slave to my habits, a cold shoulder to my conscience.

  • We've all had contact with pets or other animals in our lives.

  • We can't deny our understanding of the feelings that each animal has.

  • The ability to suffer pain or loneliness.

  • And to fear.

  • Like us also, each animal has the ability to express contentment,

  • to build family structures, and want of satisfying basic instincts and desires.

  • For many of us though,

  • that's as far as we allow our imagination to explore

  • before the truth inconveniences our habits.

  • The disconnect that exists between consuming a product

  • and the reality it takes to bring that product to market is a phenomenon to itself.

  • Animals are treated like commodities and referred to as property.

  • We call it 'murder' to kill a human being yet create legal and illegal industries

  • out of what would be regarded as torture if humans were involved.

  • And we pay people to do things to animals that none of us would engage in personally.

  • Just because we don't see it up close does not mean we're not responsible.

  • Peter Singer, the man who popularised the term 'speciesism' wrote,

  • "Although there may be differences between animals and humans

  • they each share the ability to suffer.

  • And we must give equal consideration to that suffering.

  • Any position that allows similar cases to be treated in a dissimilar fashion

  • fails to qualify as an acceptable moral theory."

  • Around the world this year 65 billion animals will be killed in factory farms.

  • How many animals' lives is one human's life worth?

  • A meat-eater in this room will consume, on average, 8,000 animals in their lifetime.

  • Ocean pollution, global warming and deforestation

  • are driving us towards the next great mass-extinction

  • and the meat industry is the greatest negative factor in all of these phenomena.

  • The illegal traffic in wildlife now ranks as one of the largest criminal industries in the world --

  • it's up there with drugs, guns and human trafficking.

  • The ability to stop this devastation

  • lies in the willingness of an international community

  • to step in and preserve a dying global treasure.

  • Experimentation on animals

  • If animals are so like us that we can substitute using them instead of humans

  • then surely they have the very same attributes

  • that mean they deserve to be protected from harm?

  • Whether we're talking about factory farming, live export, poaching, the fur trade,

  • logically, it's all on the same playing field to me.

  • Suffering is suffering,

  • and murder is murder.

  • And the more helpless the victim,

  • the more horrific the crime.

  • Next time you think an animal lover is too emotional,

  • too passionate, or even a little crazy, please remember

  • we see things through a different lens.

  • So in a few days, my son's gonna be born.

  • I find myself wondering, "What kind of world is he entering?"

  • Are we gonna be the generation that defines our failure as a species?

  • I believe our generation will be judged

  • by our moral courage to protect what's right.

  • And that every worthwhile action requires a level of sacrifice.

  • Well, I now offer myself, without reservation, to animals.

  • And when I strip away all the material belongings around me,

  • I see that I too, am an animal.

  • We're family. Together on one planet.

  • And of the five million species on that planet,

  • only one has the power to determine what level of suffering is acceptable

  • for all other sentient beings to endure.

  • Whether it's eating less meat,

  • contributing to the fight against poaching or speaking up for the voiceless,

  • we all have choices.

  • And small changes in our lives mean big changes in others' [lives].

  • So now back to the beginning.

  • My reason for being here is my question for you:

  • next time you have an opportunity to make a difference for animals,

  • will you be brave enough?

  • Yes or no?

  • Thank you very much.

  • (Applause)

My story begins in Zimbabwe

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 suffering brave orpheus knew poaching life

【TEDx】Modern Warrior: Damien Mander at TEDxSydney

  • 1897 139
    VoiceTube posted on 2014/02/20
Video vocabulary