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Animal-linked NFTs Raise Money for South African Reserve


A photo of Tlalamba, a four-year-old leopard on November 4, 2018 at the Djuma Game Reserve in South Africa. She is the most sought-after animal in her reserve among buyers of a new plan selling NFTs to raise money for conservation. (Lauren Arthur/Handout via REUTERS)
Animal-linked NFTs Raise Money for South African Reserve
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WildEarth works to protect animals through broadcasts and other technology. It is now creating NFTs linked to 25 popular animals in the protected wildlife area the Djuma Game Reserve in South Africa. It is selling the NFTs to raise money for conservation.

NFT stands for non-fungible token. It is based on a technology called blockchain, which is also used with digital currencies known as cryptocurrencies. It became largely popular last year.

An NFT can be attached to a piece of digital artwork or other things existing in digital form. The NFT can be used to provide proof that the pieces are real. While anyone can view the work, the buyer has official ownership rights over the pieces.

The most popular NFT for the Djuma Game Reserve comes from Tlalamba. Tlalamba is a four-year-old leopard, a kind of large cat. She is a leading cat for her territory, which means she is called a queen. And she has had two babies, called cubs.

Buyers of the NFTs will get special access to images, videos and information about animals like Tlalamba on an app. They can talk to other NFT owners on that app. Buyers will also get voting rights for the names of Tlalamba’s cubs and the ability to buy the cubs future NFTs first.

Forty percent of the earnings go to taking care of the animals’ habitat, or where the animals live. Some $16,000 has been raised for the Djuma Game Reserve from the sale of 1,000 NFTs. Each NFT costs around $200.

Graham Wallington is the co-founder of WildEarth. He said the project allowed followers to gain a sense of responsibility in the protection of the animals they love. The project also offers a possible new, dependable, and environmentally friendly way to provide income for conservation around the world.

He said, "If we don't create the necessary economic incentives to conserve wildlife, it won't happen.” Current conservation income comes mainly from hunting and people visiting the protected areas. He said these current ways harmed animals, their habitats, or were largely undependable during the pandemic.

He said, "We're going to have to find a solution which allows people at home to conserve nature in the wild."

Jurie Moolman is the owner of the Djuma Game Reserve. He said even visitors to the reserve can be harmful if a protected area has too many visitors. Djuma has closed its hotels.

He said that the reserve is trying to reduce its harmful effects to the earth. He added that organizations like WildEarth and the NFT program allow them to continue to share Djuma with people everywhere, while also keeping the habitat safe from harm.

The NFTs will however need to be continuously resold for them to become a dependable source of income for the reserves. Each time an NFT is resold, a percentage of that sale will go to the reserve. It is unknown if there will be a demand for this.

Even with this, Wallington is looking to expand. He hopes to sign up reserves in the country’s south. The homes of flightless birds called penguins and Kenya’s large reserve called the Maasai Mara are both in the south.

He said, "We've got a plan to scale this, in our roadmap, to all conservation areas around the world.”

I’m Gregory Stachel.

Emma Rumney reported this story for Reuters. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English.

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Words in This Story

conserve – v. to keep (something) safe or from being damaged or destroyed

access – n. a way of being able to use or get something

allow – v. to permit (something): to regard or treat (something) as acceptable

incentive – n. something that encourages a person to do something or to work harder

reserve – n. an area of land where animals and plants are given special protection

scale – v. to increase the size, amount, or extent of (something)

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