The Global Conservation Corps (GCC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit operating in South Africa which empowers local communities to conserve wildlife.
Rhinos, elephants and many other iconic African species are being wiped out at an alarming rate. The Global Conservation Corps has committed itself to invest in both people and wildlife in order to tackle the poaching crisis. We empower the rangers, conservationists, and communities of South Africa to defend and benefit from their national heritage. GCC envisions a world with wildlife. In order to make that happen, we work with communities neighboring reserves and national parks to take ownership of the animals surrounding them. GCC believes that if people are educated and exposed to wildlife, they will be more than willing to protect it.
The world is rapidly losing wildlife. 60% of global wildlife populations have vanished in the last 40 years, and 8,500 species are currently threatened with extinction. Africa is ground zero for poaching. Three rhinos and a hundred elephants are poached each day.
With the price of rhino horn currently at $100,000 per kilogram, the battle against poaching has become almost insurmountable. Anti-poaching rangers put their lives at risk every day to protect these iconic species. Unfortunately, even with the rangers, poaching not only persists but continues to increase.
In 2017, the founder of GCC, Matt Lindenberg, found himself directing the conservation documentary, RHINO MAN. In the process of making the film, Matt met Sergeant Anton Mzimba, head field ranger at the Timbavati Private Nature reserve for over a decade. Anton has over 10 years of experience as the head field ranger of the Reserve and over the years he has grown gravely concerned over the future of poaching.
Anton explained that when he joined the Reserve, his fellow rangers treated their roles as more than a job or a meal ticket. This older generation of rangers had grown up in nature. They grew up amongst many different animals that made their country so unique and beautiful and Anton believes that this spurred their love for animals. They cared deeply about Africa’s wildlife and they were willing to risk their lives to protect it.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the new recruits.
Anton laments that the passion and heart for the job are no longer there. Unlike those that came before them, the new rangers had not known nature. They grew up outside looking in, with a fence dividing them from national parks and wildlife. They rarely had the opportunity to engage with nature, unlike the generations before them. Today, there is a clear and sad disconnect between people and wildlife.
More than anything else, the new recruits are driven by money. Without passion, it is easy to be corrupted by the $100,000 per Kg price tag of a rhino horn.
However, if one’s primary motivation for being a ranger is passion for wildlife and conservation, then we stand a chance.
With this knowledge at the forefront of GCC’s mission, the Future Rangers Program was born. This program allows school children that live next to Kruger National Park to experience nature and wildlife that has been so close, yet so far.
The Future Rangers program starts engaging students from age five, aiming to build their appreciation of nature from a core level. The program gives students the opportunity to excel, with the potential for mentorship, internships, and employment.
GCC, through the Future Rangers Program, also recognizes and supports the hard work honest rangers dedicate to the job. Without their tireless work, most wildlife would cease to exist. Their passion and concern are buying us time - time that should be used for action. GCC is truly combating poaching from the core of the issue. It starts and ends with people.
GCC was started in honor of Martin Mthembu, one of the finest ranger trainers the continent of Africa has ever seen. He used his military background to train local South Africans in the skills needed to protect their national heritage. During his time as a field ranger trainer, Martin trained over 15,000 rangers throughout some of the most dangerous parks in Africa including Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania, Sudan, Congo, and Kenya.
The most important lesson Martin taught was the value and principle of inclusion. Martin believed that the continued existence of wildlife rested with African communities having a stake in their protection and promotion. Martin was a friend, a mentor, a father, a husband, an example, and a leader. GCC’s mission is rooted in what Martin lived and died for.