The world’s first virtual rhino horn has been auctioned in South Africa.

“We have rhinos on the reserve, they are protected and given space to be bred and we are doubling our population every four years or so. So it’s a really important conservation project. But it costs a fortune – if you don’t want to get poached you have to spend a ton in terms of manpower and security infrastructure, and this is a way to help us fund that. There aren’t many ways to fund that, historically those of us in the private conservation space have simply paid out of our own pockets”, said Derek Lewitton, rhino conservation farmer, Black Rock Rhino Farm.

The virtual horn was sold to a local businessman for just under $7,000.00.

“In the worst-case scenario, if rhinos go into complete disarray then I would still own a rhino horn because the NFT is a token of the physical rhino horn. So I am relatively privileged and honoured and I made my mind up before the time before the auction started that that’s the one I wanted”, explained Charl Jacobs, the new owner of the virtual horn.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are certificates of authenticity associated with a virtual object that is theoretically unique and non-printable. Many works of art are being sold this way now.

Proceeds from the auction will now revert to the Black Rock Conservation farm in Limpopo, which has seen significant growth in its rhino population in the last decade.