Bhutan’s First NFT Auction Raises Funds for Tiger Conservation

In a groundbreaking event for Bhutan, a digital artwork titled ‘The Tiger in the Snow’ has been successfully auctioned on the blockchain for 1.889 Ether (ETH), equivalent to approximately USD 6,000. This event marks Bhutan’s entry into the digital art and blockchain world, using technology to support conservation efforts.

ETH is the cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain, utilized for transactions, computational services, and smart contracts within the network. The digital artwork, a watercolour painting by a senior artist from VAST Bhutan, was inspired by a tiger photographed during the second National Tiger Survey 2022-23. The painting portrays a tiger in snowy terrain with the iconic Taktsang Monastery in the backdrop, symbolizing the tiger’s migration to higher altitudes due to climate change and human activities.

The historic sale took place during the Sustainable Finance for Tiger Landscape (SFTL) Conference in Paro on April 22-23, aimed at raising a USD one billion fund for tiger conservation. This digital collectible was minted on OpenSea, a decentralized marketplace for NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and digital assets, with technical support from Druk Holding and Investments.

Minting and listing the artwork as an NFT on OpenSea cost around USD 400. Each time the digital collectible is resold, the original creator earns a royalty between five to ten percent. The proceeds from ‘The Tiger in the Snow’ will be divided between the Department of Forests and Park Services and the artist, in a 60:40 ratio.

The art auction at the SFTL Conference, which included the sale of NFTs, successfully raised Nu. 737,644 for tiger conservation. The event was organized by several conservation agencies, including Bhutan for Life, Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation, Royal Society for Protection of Nature, Bhutan Foundation, and WWF Bhutan.

NFTs are becoming increasingly popular for conservation fundraising through digital art collectibles. Similar initiatives include The Ocean Foundation’s ‘CryptoCorals’ for coral reef restoration and Rainforest Foundation US’s NFT auctions for rainforest conservation projects.

Kuenzang Tobgay from Bhutan For Life remarked on the promise shown by NFTs for conservation fundraising, noting the substantial price achieved at the Tiger Conference. However, he cautioned about the sustainability risks associated with blockchain trading, particularly the high carbon footprint due to significant electricity consumption.

“As a global biodiversity hotspot, Bhutan has the potential to mint exotic species such as tigers, snow leopards, golden langurs, black-necked cranes, and white-bellied herons on NFT platforms to fund conservation initiatives,” Kuenzang Tobgay suggested. “However, a thorough study is needed before further venturing into NFTs.”

This innovative use of digital art and blockchain technology signifies a new era in conservation fundraising, demonstrating Bhutan’s commitment to preserving its rich biodiversity while exploring sustainable solutions.

Related Posts