Chained next to a garbage dump with scarce food and a single functioning eye, an elderly bull elephant endured four brutal years in captivity in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Chained, malnourished, and with only one functioning eye, his plight was nothing short of devastating.
Unchained Elephants, driven by an unwavering commitment to break free from traditional constraints, achieved the world's first-ever tokenized elephant rescue, revolutionising elephant conservation funding. Leveraging Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and crowdfunding, they not only unchained Kanoon but also paved the way for a brighter future in elephant conservation, marking a historic moment in elephant welfare. On September 5th, Unchained Elephants' inaugural elephant rescue mission brought Kanoon safely to an ethical elephant sanctuary in Sukhothai, Thailand - Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary (BLES).
Unchained Elephants, led by Daniel Villota, initially emerged as an NFT initiative in response to the challenges faced by elephants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their mission was to use NFTs to raise funds for elephants that had become "unemployed" due to travel restrictions. During this phase, they successfully raised $10,000 USD, which was used to provide essential care and food for eight elephants in various camps across Thailand. However, as COVID-19 restrictions eased and tourism resumed, so did elephant tourism. Unchained Elephants had to shift their focus to the new problem at hand: rescuing elephants in dire conditions and educating travellers about the elephant tourism industry.
Unchaining Kanoon: A One-Eyed Bull Elephant Chained Next To A Garbage Dump
The turning point came when Kanoon, a 55-year-old male elephant living in dire conditions in Mae Tang, Chiang Mai, was brought to their attention by Chayanan Assawadhammanond, a dedicated Thai animal activist. After consulting with elephant experts and learning more about Kanoon's distressing situation, Unchained Elephants, led by Daniel Villota & Vicki Kiely, made the decision to embark on a daring rescue mission. On June 24th, their journey to redefine the landscape of elephant rescue began.
Kanoon, a 55-year-old male elephant enduring unimaginable suffering in Mae Tang, Chiang Mai. Chained day and night, deprived of food, and left with only one functioning eye, Kanoon's situation was dire, casting a shadow on the urgent need for intervention. Kanoon's heart-wrenching circumstances shed light on a much broader issue: abandoned male elephants in Thailand, majestic creatures left to suffer without proper care or resources. With his owner unable to provide the proper care he so desperately needed, Kanoon faced a heartbreaking crossroads: the grim prospect of entering the illegal logging industry or the glimmer of a chance at salvation. It was evident that intervention was not just an option but imperative.
World's First Tokenized Elephant: Rescuing Elephants in Thailand with NFTs and Crowdfunding
The team rallied to raise $19,118 USD (650,000 baht), a sum that would pave the way for Kanoon's rescue and relocation to an ethical elephant sanctuary in Thailand. There, Kanoon would finally be unchained, receiving the love, care, and sanctuary he so rightfully deserved. On August 15th, 2023, at 10:55 PM, their mission was accomplished. Kanoon's rescue represents more than a single remarkable success; an astounding $19,495 USD (662,852 baht) was raised to rescue this bull elephant, with 60% from crowdfunding and 40% through leveraging Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) on the XRPL.
Unchained Elephant’s First Elephant Rescue Mission in Thailand
Unchained Elephant’s inaugural elephant rescue mission, which started on June 24th and was accomplished on September 5th, demanded funding, planning, unwavering determination, and the invaluable support of our partners. Kanoon's unique status as a bull elephant presented an unprecedented hurdle, causing many sanctuaries to hesitate in extending refuge due to the distinctive requirements of caring for a male elephant. Faced with this heart-wrenching dilemma, Unchained Elephants persisted, unwavering in their determination to find Kanoon a safe haven. It was then that BLES - Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary came forward with open arms, generously offering to provide Kanoon with a forever home at their ethical elephant sanctuary in Sukhothai, Thailand.
The challenging rescue journey began on September 5th, 2023, lasting a gruelling 13 hours amidst a storm while moving Kanoon from Chiang Mai to Sukhothai. Despite all the difficulties, the Unchained Elephants & BLES team stayed determined and successfully accomplished this tough task. Kanoon finding his new home at BLES signifies not just his freedom from a life of suffering but also the start of a better future for elephants' well-being. For the full elephant rescue journal, please visit this article “World’s First Tokenized Elephant.”
“This rescue mission combines the power of new technology with real-world impact, benefiting not only elephants but also other causes around the world. It leverages digital assets that not only do good but also build a strong and committed community around the cause," said Daniel Villota, founder of Unchained Elephants. "We are really grateful to our partners (Vicki Kiely and BLES), our sponsors (Hyatt Regency Phuket, Stay Wellbeing Resort & The Beach Resort Koh Samui), and every individual who contributed to making this rescue a reality. We could not have done this without all of you supporting us. Our commitment to educating travellers and promoting ethical elephant tourism to have a bigger impact remains unwavering as well as looking forward to our next rescue."
About Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES)
Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) stands as an exemplary ethical elephant sanctuary located in the historic city of Sukhothai, Thailand. Founded by Katherine Connor, it provides rescued elephants with a safe and joyful home where they can live as elephants should – roaming freely, socialising, and foraging for their own food. Travelers are warmly invited to visit BLES and partake in a unique elephant experience that benefits both the animals and themselves. Additionally, visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Thai culture and become a part of the local community. It's an unforgettable and truly one-of-a-kind elephant experience in Thailand.
About Unchained Elephants Project & Mission
Unchained Elephants is a transformative initiative that harnesses the power of NFTs to support elephant welfare. Initially conceived to aid unemployed elephants during the pandemic, it has evolved into a project dedicated to rescuing elephants from harsh conditions. This endeavour offers a distinctive blend of digital membership (NFT ownership), travel benefits, and elephant-friendly practices. Furthermore, supporters and donors will receive a certificate of adoption from the rescued elephants in the form of an NFT, fostering a lasting bond with these majestic creatures. But there's more to it than that. Through the tokenization of elephants, they raise both funds and awareness, enabling supporters to enjoy discounts on experiences in Thailand. Their commitment extends to educating travellers and directing proceeds toward elephant rescue and relocation, ushering in a new era of responsible tourism and compassionate change.
In the coming weeks and months, Unchained Elephants will concentrate on raising funds for Kanoon’s care at BLES, continuing to educate travellers, promoting ethical elephant tourism, and scouting for captive elephants in need of rescue.
To follow Kanoon's journey to recovery, stay updated on their future elephant rescue missions, and learn more about their ongoing efforts to protect and care for elephants, please visit their website at www.unchainedelephants.com and connect with them on social media via INSTAGRAM or subscribe to their YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/@unchainedelephants.