'The Chipembele Crash' Avatars to Generate Funds for Rhino Conservation

Six emerald-themed avatars called "The Chipembele Crash” are being auctioned in a very unique way to raise financial support for the black rhinoceros conservation efforts in Zambia, home of Gemfields’ famous Kagem mine.

The six rhino avatars are being sold as NFTs — non-fungible tokens — on OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace.

NFTs are pieces of digital content linked to the blockchain, the same digital database underpinning cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin. NFTs are typically used to buy and sell digital artwork.

Even though images of the rhino avatars may be widely distributed, the winning bidder of the NFT can claim ownership of the original. The winner will also have the ability to unlock exclusive content. In this case, it is an exclusive photo of the avatar’s real-life counterpart in Zambia. Bids will close at 4:42pm EST on December 19.

If you're wondering how The Chipembele Crash got its name, “Chipembele” means rhinoceros in the local indigenous dialect of Bemba and “crash” is a term used to describe a group of rhinos.

The announcement of The Chipembele Crash NFT coincides with Gemfields’ sale of the largest emerald ever discovered at its Kagem mine. The 7,525-carat "Chipembele" emerald was recently sold for an undisclosed sum to Isreali-based Eshed-Gemstar, a worldwide diamond and emerald supplier.

Gemfields noted that Eshed-Gemstar will benefit from the unique DNA nanoparticle tagging carried by Chipembele. Developed by Provenance Proof, the DNA tagging technology ensures that the cut-and-polished gems that Chipembele yields can be identified and certified as having originated from this extraordinary gemstone.

Each of the six avatars is inspired by a real-life rhino from the North Luangwa Conservation Programme (NLCP) in Zambia. Their names are Intanda, Kango, Mapalo, Mwamba, Subilo and Tamala.

The unique green body color of each avatar is actually a photographic representation of the emerald inclusions seen inside Chipembele. Each avatar carries the individual ear-notch of the animal, and is outfitted with human accessories that hint at the rhino’s distinctive personality.

Funds raised from the sale of each avatar will go to the North Luangwa Conservation Programme to aid critical black rhinoceros conservation efforts. Those funds will be added to the donation Gemfields has already pledged from the sale of the Chipembele emerald.

"Gemfields is excited to embrace innovative technology in supporting conservation efforts in Africa,” said Sean Gilbertson, CEO of Gemfields. “We are delighted to celebrate the Chipembele emerald in this manner and to promote our belief in ‘conservation gemstones.’ The Chipembele Crash NFTs are fun, unique and rooted in supporting the vital efforts of Zambia’s North Luangwa Conservation Programme. We hope that the NFTs appeal to likeminded thinkers and secure meaningful donations to help even more black rhinos in Zambia.”

NFT bidding runs through the afternoon of December 19 at this website.

Credits: Images courtesy of Gemfields.