South Africa is set host the first rhino horn non-fungible token (NFT) auction next week, raising funds to protect rhinos.
Organisers say this pioneering fundraising effort was necessitated by the need for urgent and innovative interventions to save the remaining rhino population.
NFTs have become popular across the globe in recent months, with expensive items such as real estate, digital artwork and music being "tokenised" and sold online.
An NFT is a secure digital file that validates ownership, and is stored on the blockchain system, where each NFT can represent a unique digital item, and thus is not interchangeable.
The rhino horn NFT will be auctioned in Cape Town next week, to the highest bidder in the world, through Momint, a South African social media marketplace for NFTs.
Auction organisers say there is hope in the fight to save rhinos, but help and funding are urgently needed. The winning bidder’s investment in the rhino horn NFT will be ring-fenced for the conservation and growth of SA’s rhino population.
Derek Lewitton, MD of Black Rock Rhino Conservation, comments: “South Africa’s rhino population is plagued by the tragic brutalities of poaching.
“We’ve never harnessed or leveraged the use of NFTs in the conservation space, making this a historical first for our country. And by using NFTs, we are now positioning ourselves at the forefront of creating value in rhino horns without putting the rhino’s life at risk at all.”
Maurice Crespi, CEO of Virtual Nation Builders, says he is excited “that the use of blockchain technology and crypto assets, such as NFTs, towards rhino conservation efforts in SA has been made possible. And through world-renowned NFT auditors, the winning bidder of the NFT will be awarded a full audit trail underlying the value of this particular crypto asset, with guaranteed certainty of ownership.”
“We hope this rhino horn NFT will show South Africans how they can leverage and use digital assets, as our country steps into a new digital future, in line with the global fourth industrial revolution,” comments Momint CEO Ahren Posthumus.
The live auction will take place on 11 November in Cape Town. Participants and bidders can register to attend here.