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Unprecedented Elephant Liberation: One-Eyed Bull Elephant Rescued from Grim Reality of Captivity Thanks to Revolutionary Use of NFTs!

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Facing the harsh reality of a garbage dump as his home and shackled, a senior one-eyed bull elephant survived the sheer brutality of his dire situation for four long years in the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand. His existence was undeniably grim – chained, undernourished, and with a solitary functioning eye. Unchained Elephants, a group guided by unfaltering determination to liberate elephants from such deplorable conditions, launched an unprecedented rescue operation, becoming the pioneers of utilising tokenisation for elephant conservation financing. By exploiting Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and crowdfunding, they achieved the liberation of Kanoon the bull elephant, simultaneously forging a path for sustainable elephant conservation initiatives. The historic mission culminated on September 5th when Unchained Elephants successfully relocated Kanoon to an ethical elephant sanctuary, Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES), in Sukhothai, Thailand.

The initiative, helmed by Daniel Villota, was established in response to the hardships suffered by elephants due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal was using NFTs to generate funds for ‘unemployed’ elephants whose livelihood in the tourism industry was hampered by travel restrictions. In this phase, they successfully raised $10,000 USD, which was utilised for the essential care and feeding of eight elephants in different camps around Thailand. As the pandemic restrictions began to lift and tourism revived, elephant exploitation resumed. Unchained Elephants refocused their energies towards rescuing elephants suffering in terrifying conditions and raising awareness about unethical elephant tourism.

The situation deteriorated when Unchained Elephants encountered Kanoon, a 55-year-old elephant living in appalling circumstances in Mae Tang, Chiang Mai. Alerted by Thai animal activist Chayanan Assawadhammanond, Unchained Elephants initiated a daring rescue mission in consultation with elephant experts after learning about Kanoon’s heart-wrenching situation. The journey began on June 24th, with the purpose of redefining the scope of elephant rescue work.

Kanoon’s existence was intolerable – chained indefinitely, lacking sufficient food and with only one eye to guide him. His predicament amplified the urgent need for attention to the plight of abandoned male elephants in Thailand. These majestic animals were left to endure horrific suffering in the absence of adequate care or resources. As Kanoon’s owner could not provide the necessary care, Kanoon was torn between a grim future in illegal logging and a glimmer of hope for a reprieve. Intervention was not a matter of choice but a moral obligation.

The rescue team set a fundraising target of $19,118 USD (650,000 baht) to cover the costs of Kanoon’s rescue and relocation to an ethical elephant sanctuary in Thailand. At his new home, Kanoon would finally enjoy freedom, love, and care he richly deserved. Their mission, which began on August 15th, 2023, culminated with Kanoon’s rescue at 10:55 PM. However, the rescue signifies more than just a single triumph. A staggering amount of $19,495 USD (662,852 baht) was raised for the rescue operation, 60% of which was through crowdfunding, and 40% through NFTs trading on the XRPL platform.

Unchained Elephants displayed unfaltering determination during their first elephant rescue mission, which began on June 24th and was accomplished on September 5th. Several sanctuaries balked at providing shelter to bull elephants due to the specialised requirements such care demands. However, Unchained Elephants persevered. Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary then stepped up, offering Kanoon a permanent home at their ethical sanctuary in Sukhothai, Thailand.

The arduous rescue operation kicked off on September 5th, 2023, enduring a stretched, tiresome journey of 13 hours, battling a storm to transport Kanoon from Chiang Mai to Sukhothai. Undeterred by the hurdles, the combined efforts of Unchained Elephants and BLES led to successful completion of the task. Kanoon’s arrival at BLES signified the end of his suffering and the start of a hopeful future for elephant welfare.

“This landmark rescue operation demonstrates the profound potential of leveraging newer technologies for real-world impact,” said Daniel Villota, founder of Unchained Elephants. “Our immense gratitude goes to our partners, sponsors, and every individual who contributed to making this rescue happen. We remain committed to the cause of educating the public and promoting ethical elephant tourism.”

Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES), founded by Katherine Connor, is an acclaimed ethical elephant sanctuary nestled in the historic city of Sukhothai, Thailand. It offers a safe, joyful habitat for rescued elephants. Visitors can partake in an immersive Thai cultural experience involving direct interaction with the elephants.

Unchained Elephants started as an initiative to aid unemployed elephants during the pandemic. It has since evolved to focus on rescuing elephants from intolerable conditions. Every supporter earns a certificate of adoption in the form of an NFT, forming a meaningful connection with these majestic creatures. Through elephant tokenisation, they generate both funds and awareness, offering supporters discounts on experiences in Thailand. Looking forward, Unchained Elephants will continue to raise funds for Kanoon’s care at BLES while educating travellers, promoting ethical elephant tourism, and identifying captive elephants in need of rescue.

To stay updated with Kanoon’s recovery journey and their future rescue missions, learn more about their ongoing efforts, please visit their website at or connect with them on INSTAGRAM or subscribe to their YouTube channel.

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