In an effort to raise funds and create greater awareness for the plight of South Africa’s endangered rhino, one progressive conservationist has capitalised on NFT fever by auctioning off the world’s first rhino horn NFT.
Rhinos in South Africa
Rhino poaching wasn’t always a major conservation issue requiring significant resources and creative fund-raising efforts.
Historically, demand for rhino products was relatively stable until the rapid growth of nouveau riche Vietnamese and Chinese saw demand soar. These days, while demand remains somewhat lower, much of the reduction can be attributed to highly effective anti-poaching efforts.
Despite the success of anti-poaching, which has shifted from conservationist to military-style special forces, rhinos remain critically endangered in Africa and even more so in Asia.
NFTs and Conservation
An auction was held last week to raise money to protect South African rhinos. The winning bidder, Charl Jacobs, paid R105,000 (approximately US$7,000) for a rhino horn NFT which he planned to place in trust for his children. The real horn would be locked away for safekeeping.
If [in a] worst-case scenario rhinos go into complete disarray, then I would still own a rhino horn, because the NFT is a token of the physical rhino horn.Charl Jacobs
Proceeds from the sale will go to the private Black Rock Rhino conservancy, home to 200 rhinos that are able to breed while protected from poachers. Conservationist Derek Lewitton noted that the conservancy was doubling the population of rhinos every four years, so conservation remained critical.
But it costs a fortune. If you don’t want to get poached, you have to spend a ton in terms of manpower and security infrastructure, and this a way to help us fund that.Derek Lewitton, Black Rock Rhino conservancy
While the rhino horn NFT is a first, the use of NFTs to raise funds for charity or conservation isn’t. Earlier this year, tourism-starved Seychelles issued NFTs of an endangered magpie robin to help support conservation efforts. And closer to home in Australia, the Koala Intelligence Agency NFT series was launched in August, with a portion of proceeds going towards koala conservation.
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