From goat shepherd in rural Bavaria to Wildchain, a mobile game supporting real-world conservation
Updated: Nov 24, 2021
My defining moment came 3 years ago, when the last male northern white rhino, named Sudan, passed away. There is this famous photo by Ami Vitale that shows the last moments of Sudan, together with a ranger. This photo had a huge effect on me and motivated me to try to somehow support wildlife conservation.
I then learned that we're basically at the beginning of a mass animal extinction. Since 1970, we've lost almost 70% of the world's wildlife. There are 37,400 species threatened with extinction, and within the next decade, 1 million species could be threatened.
My love for the natural world was first ignited while growing up in rural Bavaria. When I was 20, I became a goat shepherd. I took care of endangered Tauernschecken goats which inspired me to focus my career on environmental efforts and conservation projects.
My other passion is innovation. I’ve initiated FabLab Bangkok, a 1000+ m² innovation space focused on digital fabrication, community engagement, and impact. I also led innovation initiatives such as Clean-Tech hackathons, Design Thinking workshops, and the creation of a startup incubator.
I followed my passion for wildlife and technology to create Wildchain. My co-founder Arch and I strategically looked for markets to tap into and quickly realized that the gaming market is massive. There are over 2.2 billion active mobile gamers and the global games market is $180 billion. With Wildchain, we’ve created a mobile game for good, to raise funds for conservation. In our first game, you become a digital conservationist and you can digitally adopt endangered animals, raise them from baby to adult, and create your very own wildlife sanctuary.
Why did you decide to join Celo Camp and build on Celo?
When I heard about Celo, I immediately saw an alignment in the mission. The focus on mobile and impact, as well as trying to be a carbon-neutral blockchain, the EVM compatibility are some of the reasons why we love Celo.
What did you build during camp?
During Celo Camp, we set out to build Wildchain’s adoption center. Besides getting magic eggs, hatching them, taking care of your animals, and growing your wildlife sanctuary, a player can also adopt animals from other players (peer-to-peer). We first thought about the adoption flow and designed a sequence of how players would adopt an animal in the game.
We then created a basic wireframe that showed the different features of the adoption center and then deployed our first smart contracts. Animals are NFTs (ERC 721). One of the things we also worked on was the donation royalty feature. For each adoption, players generate a donation for conservation projects. Here is an example: Bob is adopting a Cheetah from Alice. Bob pays an adoption fee and Alice would earn 80% of the adoption fee, 5% would go to support Wildchain, and 15% will go into the Wildchain conservation fund. After that, we explored how to connect our game to Valora via WalletConnectSharp. During camp, Celo’s donut hardfork went live and we are now also considering building a MetaMask connection.
One of my favorite moments during Celo Camp was celebrating the donut hardfork together - with Donuts of course!
What are some important lessons you learned during Celo Camp?
As I don’t have a developer background, I really enjoyed Josh Crites, developer relations engineer at cLabs, tech sessions. He was able to explain complex things without jargon and it really helped me to understand the Celo stack and realize its potential. I also found it interesting to learn more about how to navigate the regulatory landscape. I think that it is often neglected but key to launching a compliant product.
How does your app change lives? Who do you hope to impact?
The global mass extinction, and the resulting loss of biodiversity, coupled with the degradation of natural habitats demand fundamental changes in the way nonprofits and charities raise funding as conservation funding needs to be scaled 20 to 30 times to reach our planet’s needs. Equally as importantly, we need new ways to inspire the general public to take action. Wildchain strives to support this by building novel fundraising structures that can mobilize funds at scale and that appeal to the masses to answer the call for collective action.
So far, Wildchain has:
Planted 18,300 mangroves in Mozambique
Offset 163,602 KG of CO2 per year for the next 25 years
183 workdays for people in poverty created
Our objectives are:
Educate: More people are aware of the threats for wildlife
Engage: People have a tool that allows them to take action on a daily basis
Enhance: Wildlife conservation initiatives have access to new funding sources
We want that fund utilization can be viewed and verified in a transparent manner, and projects can share exactly how their contributions are used and tie donations directly to the impact of their project. This aims to give grassroots projects more exposure and access to a stable stream of funds from a global community, empowering conservation and research like never before. The donation experience itself will be gamified with unlockables, challenges, leaderboards, awards, and competitions to empower and mobilize our community of digital conservationists.
By turning our game revenues into funding for projects selected by players who perform actions in the game, our incentive systems align with the interests of the project with up to a potential 2.2 billion mobile gamers and channel funds from entertainment into social impact.
One of the ideas we’re exploring at the moment is a DAO (an idea from our camp mentor Mike Zjako from Coinlist). As the profits generated from Wildchain’s game, NFTs (nonfungible tokens) and sponsorships are collected into a conservation fund. This fund could be set-up as a DAO and the Wildchain grant DAO could be a decentralized conservation fund. This concept would generate sustainable and scalable returns to support the crucial work of conservation initiatives.
For more information:
Contact: Florian Rehm
Author: Florian Rehm, Director, Wildchain