Saving The Elephants In Order To Save The Elephants: Part 1
A story about good and bad intentions, FUD, rugs and a community mutiny.
A century ago there were around 12 million elephants meandering about in Africa. Today that number is down to only around 400,000 according to the WWF. Estimates have around 20,000 African Elephants killed every year by poachers.
In Asia, where the slightly smaller version of this amazing species roam, there used to be over 100,000 Elephants a hundred years ago, today that number is down to around 40,000.
Disturbing numbers for sure, and the world has taken notice. Today there are many organizations and foundations whose sole purpose is to protect the elephants. Many individuals across the globe are giving money to these charities as there is a lot of love for the biggest land animal on earth. And rightly so. They do some amazing things, these trunk bearing frens of humans.
They mourn the dead for example. Upon seeing the bones or carcass of another elephant, a herd will stop and investigate. They have been seen to gently stroke the bones with their trunks and even cover the body with leaves, grass and branches. If an elephant within their own herd dies they are known to stay with the body for days or even weeks while they rumble and cry.
Many probably remember the story where an elephant herd traveled 12 hours to Lawrence Anthony’s house the day he died of a heart attack. Earlier he had rescued the same herd from a dangerous situation and had spent time rehabilitating them to go on with their lives. The herd hadn’t been around his house for over a year and a half, but started their journey to his house around his time of death and hung around for a few days once they had arrived.
Recent findings even show that elephants might be worshipping the moon. Or at least that their behavior changes with the moon cycle.
So no wonder that the NFT project Untamed Elephants, one of the first (or maybe even the first) charity driven NFT projects in the Metaverse stirred up some buzz when it launched. While the commission fee was slightly higher than normal for the time, a decent amount was going to be earmarked for charitable donations to organizations that focus on protecting wild elephants. After a few days of slow sales amid a budding NFT hype in the middle of July 2021 (7,000 years ago in Metaverse time), sales took off and 7,500 Untamed Elephants was minted generating around 500K USD in sales.
I’m old enough to remember the hype and joy in the Untamed Elephants discord. This felt fresh. AND it was for a good cause. The roadmap that was released after the initial sale seemed intriguing, yet a bit all over the place. Untamed Companions were presented - a cute little owl that would be a free mint fren for your Phant. Here’s another way this project was ahead of the curve - companions and free mints for holders have since then become almost a standard.
In the roadmap there was also a staking scheme and after a while the idea of a slot machine came up. Although intriguing, some people started to question the cohesiveness of the strategy. Some updates that were promised began to be delayed. Voices in the discord that questioned certain things surfaced. The floor started to drop. FUD started to show its ugly face.
This is when the team behind the project needs to step up and start communicating clearly. FUD is like fire. It has the potential to devour anything in its way and the only weapon we have against it is clear and strong communication. The founder chose a different path. Keeping a long story of a downward spiral short, let’s just say that instead of clarity - things became more befuddled. As the FUD rose the communication got worse. Long periods of silence were followed by announcements from the founder that were clearly attempts of obfuscation. The herd went on a FUD stampede. The floor price tanked. The hated and feared term “rug” started to pop up.
“Rug” is the crypto world’s version of “He who shall not be named”. It’s the worst thing that can happen to a project. A fraudulent effort to move ETH from other people's wallets into your own, and then take the funds and disappear.
Was this charity driven project centered around the beloved elephants of the world actually a rug of Voldemortian proportions?
There’s only one thing the community can do to offset a rug-situation and it’s not easy: Come together and take over the project.
The Untamed Elephant community tried. They voiced opinions and came with suggestions. It was clear that there was a will from the community to keep the project alive. The community wanted the main founder out. The founder who was in control of the discord didn’t want to listen. Instead he started to ban people. Hundreds of discord members were banned from the server as FUD grew to epic proportions.
A new leader was proposed. An anon under the name “VikingDad” emerged as someone willing to buy the project if the owner would just agree that the proposed ETH-sum was put in escrow, while the ownership of the smart contracts, website and discord server was transferred. The owner refused. A heated debate ended with VikingDad being banned from the server as well. The word on the ensuing chaos spread and was discussed in a large number of other discords.
At this point in time the awareness about the Untamed Elephants project peaked. In a very bad way. The owner of the project had lost control of the community, but refused to let go of the project. He blatantly stated that he was willing to sell it, that he didn’t want to work on it anymore, but refused to agree to any escrow terms.
Things did not look great for the Elephants at this point. How would a buyer agree to pay someone who had already shown rug-like intentions without any security at all?
The Untamed Elephants, just like the real elephants of our planet, was facing the threat of extinction…
End of part 1. Find part 2 here.
We believe this project deserves more attention. Which is why Studio TBD hold Untamed Elephants NFT in our DAO collection.