Loss of biodiversity has become an urgent environmental problem in many places around the world. Habitat loss, air and water pollution, over-exploitation, and unsustainable use of natural resources, have all significantly contributed to this problem in recent years, with more than 35,500 species worldwide now threatened with extinction.
A new project aims to help solve the crisis with a rather unconventional tool — a smartphone app that enables players to support conservation efforts from the comfort of their sofa.
Called Wildchain, the app lets users adopt wildlife, plant trees, and support real-life conservation projects by creating a virtual sanctuary for threatened species. Players start with a magical egg that can hatch into one of the world’s most endangered animals, such as a cheetah or elephant.
Each virtually adopted animal is matched to a real-life counterpart based on animal population numbers. So there are only 6,674 cheetahs in the game — the equivalent to the actual number of cheetahs left in the world. Once the digital animal is hatched, players need to create its ideal habitat, which involves anything from planting trees to safeguarding animals from poachers.
What’s particularly great about the initiative is that it uses the money players spend in the game (for things like opting out of ads or buying in-game items) to fund wildlife protection projects. And if a player plants a tree in the game, the non-profit plants one in the real world to help cut their carbon footprint.