Wildlife conservation efforts are turning to NFT-funded initiatives

Wildlife conservation efforts are turning to NFT-funded initiatives

Non-fungible twin digital tokens, or NFTs, are no longer reserved just for consumer products. The Netherlands-based decentralized carbon credit exchange Coorest and conservation consultancy PLCnetwork from the southern hemisphere have teamed up to tokenize individual real-world endangered animals in their own game reserves and conservation areas private in Africa. These wildlife NFTs allow keepers to sponsor an elephant, lion, cheetah, or rhino. Profits from sales will go to food, shelter and safety for the animals they represent.

Cointelegraph spoke with William ten Zijthoff, founder and CEO of Coorest, to learn more about combining blockchain and sustainability with wildlife conservation. Coorest is best known for operating an NFTrees CO2 offsetting system that tokenizes assets or bonds and carbon credits that can be traded on the blockchain. Whoever buys an NFTree collects and burns CO2 tokens to record the amount of CO2 reduced.

Similarly, the concept of wildlife treats conservation as an asset that should be invested in for the good of both animals and the environment. He explained that protected areas or eco-lodges “need new business models that do not depend on tourism for income or donations”. That’s why Coorest has partnered with PLCnetwork in the Southern Hemisphere with links to nature reserves in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

According to PLCnetwork founder Dr Julia Baum, the main problem with wildlife conservation on the ground is that “it is expensive and resources are often very limited.” Even for a private reserve with a generally larger budget, the cost of caring for an African elephant, for example, can be very expensive because it includes fencing, monitoring, 24-hour anti-poaching patrols, and veterinary support.

When asked what the main benefits of owning an elephaNFT or a lioNFT are, ten Zijthoff said it’s about building a long-term relationship with the animals, the nature reserve, and Coorest. He also clarified that NFT ownership of the wildlife does not confer ownership of the animals, but provides a monthly check of “proof of life” that the animal is still alive. The metadata of each NFT contains information about the species, age and sex, specific to each tokenized animal. The owners will also be invited to visit the nature reserve and meet the animals.

70% of these wildlife NFTs will go to the game reserve or conservation area, with funds released on a monthly or scheduled basis. VulcanForged is a blockchain game studio and NFT marketplace that has partnered with Coorest to sell and feature its wildlife NFTs in various play-to-earn games, offering owners additional uses and rewards in the game.

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As this first Wildlife NFT pilot project is underway to “further develop overall conservation innovation,” Baum believes this new type of NFT impact can raise awareness of conservation action and social development for new audiences and wider. The long-term goal is to achieve greater investment and success on the ground around the world, he added.