"Our Mission is to bridge the gap between People and Nature. Teaching this generation the vital importance of protecting the environment and its fragile biodiversity; and how we can all take action to ensure the future of this planet we all call home. ICORP is on the frontline: protecting and conserving through education, training and equipping people to become Guardians of Nature - creating a bridge from this generation to the next
MISSION & VISION.
ICORP (International Coalition of Ranger Protection) is on the front line in South Africa, ensuring futures for diverse local wildlife. ICORP works with local communities and the international community in coming up with a blueprint towards sustainable economic alternatives to the poaching trade and the deforestation of sensitive habitats for subsistence farming.
Deforestation and habit loss, is already having a massive impact on our planet and our survival as a species. We need to Act Now! Time is against us, adn ICORP is working hard to be the conervation organisation of the future.
ICORP is spearheading the ambitious establishment of an autonomous, sustainable wildlife preserve, and ranger training facility. South Africa is facing unprecedented increases in poaching and deforestation of sensitive habitats. Conservation and counter-poaching in Southern Africa face many nuanced, intricate and delicate obstacles.
Pioneering integrative, regenerative and community driven solutions to counter poaching and conservation.
The systemic problems of developing democracy, human population increase, habitat decrease, a scarcity of resources for both humans and animals, soil erosion, deforestation, a lack of awareness and education of the necessity of ensuring biodiversity - and on the frontlines we have Rangers, risking their lives for the preservation of the environment.
Traditionally counter-poaching has taken on a militarized approach, prioritsing large game like Rhino, which is crucial but as the world changes, so too must the role of the Ranger. Rangers are at the frontline of the most important battle we face on the planet, the intersection between humans, animals and nature We can no longer look at counter-poaching and conservation through a reactionary lens, a holistic and integrative system is needed. We need to find sustainble ways to involve all stakeholders of the land; People and Nature.
ICORP aims to provide this - joining the movement of regeneration and sustainability, tackling the problem of poaching and conservation from its roots by teaching our rangers, and through them, communities to build sustainable and biodiverse economies that will ensure the regeneration of our planet for the future.
After having spent several years in the military, Marc Mcdonald, founder of ICORP, was drawn to the wilderness of Botswana, where his career in conservation would start. This amazing journey took him to some extraordinary wild places in Southern Africa over the last 30 Years.
He soon realized that if nothing drastic was done, the world will become a much poorer place by the loss of habitats and species of wildlife - reptiles, birds and mammals - at the hands of cartel run poaching syndicates operating the wildlife-rich areas of Southern Africa. After spending some time on two beautiful reserves in Mozambique, ICORP - the International Coalition of Rhino Protection - was born. Founded on the back of the senseless slaughter of wildlife.
The realization soon became evident of non-participative communities in conservation, that sustainable economies had to be created and all communities need to become inclusive in this struggle.
So the full circle approach would become part of the operational principles of ICORP. Rangers - Communities - Wildlife.
As in the wild with gene pool dispersal by the new and strong, the baton of conservation has been handed to a young well qualified generation. The new conservation generation have, learnt, listened and observed the hard journey the pioneers of yesteryear have operated in, while successes were logged, a whole new and promising dimension of these highly motivated and qualified people will add a dedication to this industry never seen before.
Their biodiversity is in dire straits - who better to take the lead now. For ICORP this meant it was time for new and fresh leadership to be handed the torch. This individual had to understand the ecosystems and processes, the dynamics of the environment, have had a good grounding in Counter Poaching and law enforcement, while Community engagement had to be part of the qualifying criteria.
This candidate had to take ICORP into a business arena through digital marketing and have excellent financial, Human Resource, project management and planning skills. Such a man met the criteria and had proved himself over many years. As a child camping and walking right beside me, the founder in wild areas in Southern Africa, camping along the world renowned Kruger National Park boundary with Mozambique.
Through my eyes, I saw the passion that had led me to Botswana many years ago, grow in this candidate. Learning his vision, and through many heated debates and disagreements I came to see where He was coming from, that we need to put on a new perspective and think to the future.
He himself as a young adult qualifies as a trail guide, sharing his love and knowledge to many hundreds of guests, both foreign and local. Lying in ambush seeking out poachers with other Rangers - living in the bush night and day. Participating in every Conservation role and responsibility and understanding the Management of wild areas. His technology and business knowledge are acute.
Finally Matthew Mc Donald was formally approached and after a two year interim period of sitting in different roles, he proved to be a great steward of much. The decision to appoint Matthew as the CEO of ICORP was not difficult.
His success both in the field and office is a testimony of his dedication and commitment to the people and wildlife under his watch. The old ICORP laid the foundation, and the new generation of Conservation specialists, The Paul Krugers of today, in the ranks are building an identity of trust, and confidence, through closer working relationships. Going against the current in some instances, but for the future survival of our Planet.
ICORP has come of age - it has expanded and the philosophy of hope for wildlife protection, conservation and community integration lives on. A new generation of Guardians of Nature have emerged to drive the vision forward. Salute
The next generation of rangers.
A message from the ICORP CEO
Matthew Mc Donald
Nature has an incredible effect on us as humans, from the personal deep sense of belonging, it has a calling deep within our souls. Anyone who has spent time in nature would have experienced the same thing, Peace and disconnect from a man-made world, nature has the moving power to bring us back to our roots.
We rely on every aspect of nature and its processes, in our man-made world, from water to the production of food. It's in the air we breathe and the rain that falls. It's in every sunrise and sunset. Without the natural Processes of the Planet, we as Humans are heading to our own demise, with continued destruction, we will all feel its effects, we already are.
It's not just the personal effect, but also the effects it has on us as a species. We need to come to a place where we can create a tomorrow that sees Biodiversity thrive together with people, we are part of the natural process of the planet, and once we understand this synergy, this would be true Biodiversity. It's a very daunting, and long term task, but not impossible. We need to act now and make the necessary changes today in our lives, or time will run out.
During Covid 19, and the lockdown restrictions put in place, we saw massive positive effects on the planet. Earth is able to thrive and repair itself but it will take all of us to play a part. The Pandemic also allowed us as a team to see things from a different perspective, and that we need to become a conservation organisation that sets a president and blueprint using all the resources we can get from technology to better research, so that ICORP can be an organisation, bringing long term sustainable solutions to the conservation arena.
I grew up in Skukuza, a camp within the Kruger National Park. The wilderness has always been a part of my life, and it will never get old. My father who founded ICORP (International Coalition of Rhino Protection), instilled key principles in me to be a Guardian of our natural resources. I later Studied at Eco Ranger, which paved my future within the conservation industry. Being a field guide for the last 8 years has allowed me to get in-depth knowledge of how conservation is done while sharing my passion and the importance of the natural world to people all over the world.
My deep passion for nature and the people who live within it, sparked the need that we need to rethink and relook at how conservation is done as a whole. I started to work for ICORP 2 years ago, which was solely a counter-poaching organisation. Once I had worked up to CEO, I knew now is the time to build an organisation that brings people from all over the world together, to be a platform to help millions of people get involved in protecting, regenerating and rewilding our Planet. It starts at home.
I saw the need that for us to save the Rhino, or the planet, we need to first look after the People. I made the decision to change the word Rhino to Ranger in the Name ICORP, (International Coalition of Ranger Protection) this new name makes it, about the people, the men and women that need to come together locally and internationally, and play their part in making small changes in their lifestyles that benefits the planet.
I have walked into so many Ranger bases, and see plastic lying around, meeting rangers that are passionate, to catch poachers but throw a cigarette butt on the ground, and dont have a full understanding of how Rhino is one part of the eco system, thats needed for it to strive. This opened my eyes, that we need to come back to basics, and instil the importance and passion for wildlife protection and conservation back into people. The rhino poaching crisis is reaching a tipping point, and I believe the consequence is that we have trained up soldiers and not conservationists. Rangers have become involved in the blood money of wildlife crimes because they dont see the benefit in being a ranger.
ICORP Strives to change that, I look at myself and many others who have followed their passions, no matter the cost, you will push forward. If we can inspire, and stir up the hearts and minds of all people, create excitement into the amazing wonders of how our planet works and how can we harness its natural processes to create a sustainable and homogeneous relationship between humans and nature. Building a fututre where the natural world and humans can thrive together. This is not an easy task, but achievable. This means we have to start somewhere and now, as we slowly build the foundation needed to lead our vision forward so we call on all the world, for all the help we can get.
Counter-Poaching under the ICORP banner was based on a paramilitary-style of operations - Intelligence gathering, observation posts, ambush and arrests with thousands of km of patrols and snare sweeps conducted. Many of these operations are still ongoing in the areas we protect, yet Once we started with community enagment, and got to the root of the poaching crisis in our areas, it was clear that Counter-Poaching on its own is a band aid, and is not tackling the root, but rather the fruit.
This was a successful receipt but had to be redesigned to be fully inclusive of the communities in the regions of our operations. A deep mistrust had developed over time, from these communities on the periphery of many Reserves.
There was never a real incentive or understanding to the communities of what they were doing is causing harm to the entire ecosystem and no real engagement ever took place, excepting chasing, handcuffing and arresting members of these communities. Conservation is a multi-stakeholder concern. All parties have to benefit in a win-win situation. It has been proven by ICORP that poaching can be dramatically reduced when respect is shown to communities as a collective and not over a barrel of a firearm.
The ICORP Ranger units have stopped poaching in some areas completely with the use of zero lethal weapons. No longer is this organization a laughing stock but a peace-force to be reckoned with. The philosophy of Rangers - Communities - Wildlife has proved to be a huge success. This practice is only possible by a unit of highly qualified and dedicated Rangers in the field, strong leadership and committed support staff.
Creating proper communications with sincere engagement with all our community stakeholders - this includes our commercial farmers, subsistence community farmers, community leaders and chiefs, police and law enforcement agencies, agriculture and hunting departments, and other relevant agencies and departments. Our goal is to create coalitions across the board. Once you hear the hearts of all people, It's clear we all want the same things. We all are dedicated to seeing the Planet thrive, and the only way this can ever happen in my opinion is with inclusion.
ICORP is breaking ground in a new direction in the Wildlife protection and conservation arena. We look at how the Grasslands of Kenya thrive, because of the movements of animals, yet cattle farms are destroying habitats. How can we come up with win/win situations, that creates sustainable harmony, and stops the mass destruction we are seeing today. How do we instil new habits in people, thats beneficial to the environment, without impossing? These are questions, we at ICORP are striving to anwer.
This approach is deeply entrenched in our organizational philosophy. Our Rangers became the platform of hope while working closely with affected communities on the periphery of the Reserves ICORP protected. Skills development of these communities resulted in sustainable economies being created. No longer were these communities at the mercy of syndicates using their poverty to hold them at ransom.
I then thought, if we can do this locally, let's take it Global, let's join hands together, to become Guardians of Nature, to lead a life with integrity with an all-inclusive Philosophy to ultimately define the next generation’s understanding of collective Conservation in Southern Africa and the world. Ultimately creating a community that wants to come back to its roots, come back to our own natural processes as Humans, a future where nature and humans thrive, where wildlife wins.
We are only at the start, and it's an exciting journey ahead, it has been incredible meeting so many people that want to be a "Guardian Of Nature", to help build and direct the world in ways that benefits the Earth. Join hands, we would love to hear your ideas, lets create coalitions and together build soloutions in helping the planet restore itself rather than destroying it.
Follow our journey as a group of ordinary People, with a passion for conservation.