African Reserves

Sale of animal-related NFTs raises funds for conservation of South African reserve

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Four-year-old leopard Tlalamba has achieved a lot in his short life. She is the queen of her mother’s former territory, has given birth to two cubs, and so far is the most sought-after animal on her stash among buyers of a new non-fungible token sale project. (NFT) to raise funds for conservation.

NFTs are a form of crypto asset that has exploded in popularity over the past year. All kinds of digital objects – from art to videos and even tweets – can be bought and sold as NFTs, which use unique digital signatures to ensure they are unique.

Today, WildEarth, an animal streaming service, is creating NFTs related to 25 prominent animals like Tlalamba in the Djuma Game Reserve in South Africa.

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Buyers will have privileged access to images, videos and information about creatures like Tlalamba through an app, where they can also talk with other NFT owners. They even get the right to vote on behalf of the little ones of Tlalamba and the first information about their future NFTs.

Forty percent of proceeds go to the Animal Habitat Guardian, with some $16,000 raised for the Djuma Reserve through more than 1,000 sales to date. Each NFT currently costs around $200.

Graham Wallington, co-founder of WildEarth, said the company empowers enthusiasts to gain a sense of caring for the animals they love, while providing a potential, reliable, low-impact new revenue stream for the global conservation.

“If we don’t create the economic incentives needed to conserve wildlife, it won’t happen,” he said, adding that current conservation revenues, including through hunting and tourism, have harmed animals. , to their habitats or have proven to be massively unreliable during the pandemic.

“We’re going to have to find a solution that allows people at home to keep nature wild.”

Even tourism could be harmful if a reserve hosts too many people, added Jurie Moolman, owner of the Djuma reserve. Djuma has closed its commercial lodges.

“We’re trying to walk the earth lighter,” he continued, adding that initiatives like WildEarth and the NFT program allow them to continue sharing Djuma with people around the world, while preserving habitat.

NFTs, however, will need to be traded on the secondary market, providing ongoing royalties to habitat custodians, for them to become a reliable source of income. It is not known if the demand exists for it.

Wallington is nonetheless focused on expansion, with the hope of signing reserves in the south of the country, which is home to penguin colonies, and then in Kenya’s Maasai Mara.

“We have a plan to expand this, in our roadmap, to all conservation areas around the world,” he said.

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Reporting by Emma Rumney, editing by William Maclean

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