We’ve seen a lot of buzz in the realm of NFTs in recent months. Everything ranging from DeLoreans to music and record-breaking artworks. Now there is a new addition to the world of Non-Fungible Tokens, one that is produced by an elephant. It’s called The Tree of Life and it’s a world exclusive first edition NFT produced by a seven-year-old elephant named Tunwa.

This Picasso of elephants is a resident of Maetaeng Elephant Park & Clinic in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Now Tunwa owns the distinction of producing The Tree of Life the world’s first-ever NFT created by an elephant.

BitTrunks, the NFT-branch of Elephant Art Online (EAO), has announced the initial release of this unique NFT which will go up for auction on OpenSea on October 28, 2021. It will be made available for purchase via the cryptocurrency Ethereum.

People can visit Elephant Art Online and purchase authentic, original paintings created by elephants. A portion of the sale price goes to support the park and its free health clinic. You also receive a one-of-a kind keep sake like no other piece of art on the planet. To find out more we speak to Dwain Schenck, co-head of BitTrunks to find out more.

Suda painting
Suda the world famous painting elephant

How did this idea of creating an NFT art made by an elephant come about?

The idea to create the world’s first-ever NFT art made by an elephant is a natural extension of what has been taking place for more than 20 years at the Maetaeng Elephant Park & Clinic in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It’s almost impossible to believe until you see for yourself, but over the past two decades a handful of elephants have learned to paint on canvas at the park.

Just Imagine if an elephant could show you what it sees and thinks. Crazy thought? But that’s what these few immensely talented elephants can do with paint – not just splashes of colour either – but art with trees, animals, blue skies, self-portraits, and other subject matter beautifully rendered on canvas.

Our 1 of 1 Tree of Life NFT painting created by Tunwa, a seven-year-old elephant, is a historically unique investment opportunity due to the complexity and acuity of the piece of art. What’s more, a portion of the sales proceeds will help support the elephant park and its elephant hospital where Tunwa lives alongside more than 80 other elephants.

The popularity of NFTs intersecting with the uniqueness of the art that our elephants are creating, demonstrates how important it is to collectors and investors to prove ownership over these digital assets. NFTs are valuable because they are designed to be scarce. They give us a chance to support artists of all types, but nothing compares to the uniqueness of owning a piece of art from and immensely talented painter that happens to be an elephant!

In the realm of NFTs, what has the interest been like thus far for this unique piece of art by Tunwa?

We are already receiving a lot of interest from people around the world who collect NFTs considering how this offering was just recently announced as the world’s first NFT created by an elephant. There has naturally been a lot of chatter on social media about the release and we have seen a major uptick on visits to both of our websites where people have been ordering original canvas art made by the world famous Suda the elephant and others.

How long did this piece of art take to produce?

The Tree of Life painting took Tunwa the elephant a little over four hours to produce, but that included snack breaks and time off to walk around the park and eat bananas, one of his favourite treats. The elephants paint on their own time schedule. When they lose interest, they stop and come back later. They are never forced to paint.

In terms of investment, does the unique aspect of the NFT being produced by an elephant afford it a more heightened appeal and interest?

As opposed to the thousands of offerings available on the NFT-market, we believe that Tunwa’s painting will promise to be a solid investment for any investor that is looking for something so valuable and inexplicable to have in a collection. What’s more, proceeds of the sale will help support the lives of hundreds of elephants who need the basics like food and medical attention.

The desire to collect is something that dates to the dawn of mankind. Whatever the motivation, the act of accumulating valuables is universal across humanity. Digital scarcity is one of the main characteristics surrounding the reasons people are investing in and collecting NFTs and the idea that an elephant painted something so nearly priceless takes the idea of rarity and uniqueness to a whole new level.

Some of the proceeds of the sale will be allocated towards the elephant park where Tunwa lives. Are there more similar initiatives being planned for the future?

In 2000 we started to teach our elephants how to paint. The idea was to sell the paintings to raise enough money so that we could build an elephant hospital at the park. In 2006 that dream came true and we became the first elephant park with a government licensed hospital on its premises in Northern Thailand that now treats an estimated 800 elephants in the area free of charge.

To keep this kind of service going we depend on the generosity of those who visit the park, general donations, and the purchase of elephant paintings. Due to Covid-19, and the fact that tourism and the funds that come with it have dried up, it seemed natural to turn one of our most beautiful paintings into a 1 of 1 NFT.

There’s nothing like it in the world. In addition to this NFT we are also offering three collections of elephant art on October 28th on OpenSea. This includes: Collection 1 (10 natural NFTs sold individually), Collection 2 (10 vectorized NFTs sold individually) and Collection 3 (10 animated NFTs sold individually).

BitTrunks will also continue to surprise the NFT community with regular exclusive releases that are aimed towards collectors who are looking for long and short-term gains in the lucrative NFT market. Our aim is to create a unique offering that will act as a profitable investment vehicle while at the same time generate needed funds for our elephant park and clinic to survive and thrive.

In addition to fulfilling the interest in the NFT marketplace, do you feel that this initiative also helps raise awareness for animal care/conservation?

We believe this NFT will not only be a great investment but will also bring more awareness to the importance of animal welfare and the preservation and protection of animals, especially the elephant. Elephant populations have experienced significant declines over the last century.

We opened the Maetaeng Elephant Park & Clinic in 1996 to provide a safe and caring environment for the many elephants and their mahouts, the elephant’s caretaker, who lost their job because of the Thai Government ban on all logging practices in protected forests.

With the modernization and commercialization of Thailand in the 20th century, the elephant habitat was destroyed at an unprecedented rate as domesticated elephants were used by non-Thai owners in the Teak logging industry until the ban in 1989.  Hundreds of logging elephants became unemployed. An owner had to find ways to feed his elephant and make an income. The Thai elephants were forced to survive either in the illegal logging industry, walking the city streets begging or in tourism.

An argument can be made that a well-run elephant camp like ours provides a safe and caring environment for the elephants and supports the mahout and their families.

Is the artwork available for purchase strictly via Ethereum only?

The short answer is no, anyone can purchase the Tree of Life NFT or buy other one-of-a kind paintings by visiting Elephant Art Online, the original seller of elephant paintings from Thailand. Photos and a video of the painting being produced, in addition to a certificate of authenticity (QR Code), will accompany the work of art. Elephant Art Online also provides free worldwide shipping.

The NFT is separate to these original canvases sold on the Elephant Art Online website and is provided by BitTrunks, the NFT-branch of Elephant Art. We encourage anyone to visit both websites.

To place a bid on the Tree of Life you can visit the BitTrunks page on OpenSea.

(Images: BitTrunks)

written by.
Richard Augustin
Former chef turned writer; Richard has tip-toed around the publishing industry for two decades. When not busy chasing deadlines, you can still find him experimenting with recipes in the kitchen.

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