SA cryptocurrency launched for rhino horn trade and conservation

Rhino Coin launched (Supplied)
Rhino Coin launched (Supplied)

Rhino Coin, described by its founders Alexander Wilcocks and Jacques du Randt as a cryptocurrency "with a conscience", has been launched - with the aim of generating a new, untapped source of revenue to aid rhino conservation efforts.

The key motivation behind the cryptocurrency is to save the rhino by trying to create a steady and sustainable source of revenue for rhino conservation, according to Wilcocks and Du Randt.

"Rhino Coin attempts to give value to the legal rhino horn by converting it to cryptocurrency in a 1 coin to 1 gram (of horn) ratio, thereby allowing the conservationists to unlock the value of the horn and to take it to the international market, all while the horn is staying in South Africa," they responded to a question by Fin24."A coin holder can either trade his or her coin on the marketplace provided by the cryptocurrency trade engine or redeem it subject to the necessary permits being issued."

By Monday the Rhino Horn was trading at R119 per coin, a 25.26% price increase from the day of the launch, where it was trading at R95 per coin.Wilcocks told Fin24 that they had also seen a significant increase in trade volume since the launch event on 7 June 2018.

For conservation 

Fin24 was told by Wilcocks that the majority of the first issue of Rhino Coins will go directly to the conservationists, who can trade with the coin to generate much-needed funding to sustain their operations. In so doing, they can create value from rhino horn without the horn having to leave stockpiles. 

A further percentage is allocated to the Rhino Coin Foundation, to realise and distribute to conservation initiatives of their choice, but in line with the objectives of the foundation, which are conservation and community upliftment.  

A question of value 

Wilcocks explained that legal rhino horn has very little value in the domestic market. Even though a there are a lot of rhino conservation fundraising projects around, in their view, very little of the money is actually reaching grass roots, especially the private conservation initiatives.

With around a third of all rhinos in private care, Rhino Coin attempts to create value to current stockpiles in a bid to generate funds for these owners to sustain their efforts, even though the model is not limited to private conservationists.

A private conservationist will introduce horn to be stored in a secure place and be issued Rhino Coin in return, which can then be traded in a "liquid marketplace".

This, says Wilcocks, means the global community can be involved in partaking in rhino conservation, while retaining the advantage associated with cryptocurrency that allows one to potentially see a return.

Legal trade

With domestic trade being legal and the fact that the Rhino Coin is represented on a 1g of horn to 1 coin basis, redeeming the coin for horn will be allowed if all legalities are complied with, he explained. 

Wilcocks told Fin24 that it is common knowledge that in the rhino conservation space, there is an active and on-going debate between two ideologies, pro-traders and anti-traders.

And although both sides have the intention to save the rhino and have valid arguments, the founders of Rhino Coin contend that, while the debate rages on, rhino are being killed at an alarming rate of nearly three a day, and something different needs to be done, in their view. 

"Our solution is the development of Rhino Coin: a cryptocurrency with a conscience. While we unquestionably believe that rhinos should ideally roam free with horns intact in their natural habitat, we realise that we do not live in an ideal world," Wilcocks responded to a question by Fin24.

"Therefore, we decided that Rhino Coin would take a new approach and follow a similar role of the well-known 'Doctors Without Borders', by stating that Rhino Coin aims to operate 'in the warzone', without choosing sides, with the aim to save lives on the ground, in the present, and prioritising the welfare of the rhino population."

South Africa holds approximately 80% of the world’s rhino population.

The number of SA rhino poached averages around 867 rhinos per year, with more than a thousand rhinos killed per year since 2013 - not including 2018 figures.

"By tackling the problem on both a local and global scale, through cutting-edge digital technology, and cryptocurrency as its vehicle for change, we hope to impact positively on the issue of dwindling numbers of rhino and empower the public to do the same," said Wilcocks.

Rhino Coin is based on a private blockchain built on Ethereum, and creates a trading opportunity for the coin holders.

How it works 

A purchaser acquires Rhino Coin, a cryptocurrency represented on a 1:1 basis. The participant, in return for his or her financial contribution, receives Rhino Coin, which can then be traded with other participants on a trade engine.

An individual could also trade Rhino Coin for legal rhino horn, but subject to the relevant permits being in place. The legal rhino horn is kept in a secured vault, the location of which the founders told Fin24 they would prefer not to disclose for security reasons.


While 74% of the coin value will be allocated to conservation and community causes, 26% will go toward the continued development and sustainability of the platform.

The Rhino Coin Foundation, a non-profit organisation, has further been created as a separate entity made up of an external board of directors. They have been mandated to manage and direct the flow of funds to identified rhino conservation and community socio-economic development projects.

The Foundation Board’s main objective is to get the funds to where they are needed most, which is on the ground, including investing in the wellbeing of communities based in and around rhino reserves and range areas, according to the founders.

"By providing the communities with a better means in which to receive a sustained income, we hope to lower the benefit and temptation of participating in illegal poaching in the immediate areas," explained Du Randt.

Every project undertaken and invested in will be reported on and shared in detail with the public via the Rhino Coin website.

The main focus areas, are increasing rhino populations and communities around rhino reserves. An independent foundation has also been established to distribute funds to initiatives of its choice, but in line with the objectives of the company Rhino Coin Foundation NPC. Wilcocks told Fin24 that the Rhino Coin Foundation was looking to support rural communities that are next to game reserves in Southern Africa. These include South African and surrounding borders. In addition, they want to support rhino conservation projects as well as initiatives that are focused on environmental conservation.

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