Matterless Community Donates to Help Save Snow Leopards
Wildlife preservation is a core tenet of Matterless since its inception. Supported by our community, we donated to the Snow Leopard Trust, an organization dedicated to the research and preservation of one of the most elusive and rare wild cats.
One of the reasons we created Matterless Studios is because of our love for the natural world, all its diverse habitats, and the incredible variety of wildlife we share our home with. From the very beginning, we wanted to make an impact on how people see and treat animals, not just by focusing on game design, but also to bring about real change by giving to charity and cooperating with wildlife preservation organizations around the world. At the end of a tough 2021, we were able to act on that tenet for the first time.
A Cool Idea
Since a lot of new members joined our Discord, we saw a huge increase in the number of boosts on our server. It was getting crazy, we hit over 300 boosts. And even though we love the flair, we immediately start wondering: “Is there a way to leverage all that love for Matterless into something more palpable?”
We decided to combine two things important to us: give access to our upcoming closed beta, and charitable work that has been on our minds since we founded Matterless.
We quickly created a Patreon, and hooked it up to Discord, for people to support our project and nature preservation. Those who are willing and able would get special Discord perks, beta access, and help save animals and their habitat. We chose the Snow Leopard Trust for our first donation. We support the SLT because it aims to protect the endangered snow leopard through community-based conservation projects. They do it by tackling issues from multiple fronts; by improving scientific understanding of snow leopard behavior, needs, habitats, and threats, as well as establishing and aiding grass-roots movements in 12 Asian countries.
Also, the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of high-altitudes in Central Asia, and its nickname is “the Ghost of the Mountain”. This pretty much confirms the snow leopard as the COOLEST cat in the world (sorry). We at Matterless have a soft spot for wild cats.
The Matterless Discord Comes Together
We were not sure how our community would respond. Can the goodwill and enthusiasm of our Discord members be funneled into actual charitable causes?
What happened next was wondrous.
After we enabled the Patreon link, originally with 500 spots for backers, we were overwhelmed by the positive response. Our Patreon filled up in a few hours. We added the role “Matterless Fren” for all our backers, started an exclusive channel for them, and joined a live stream.
In the live stream, we showed off the demo for the Matterless app built on the Aukiverse tech, where more than 50 people joined into the same interoperable space via 2 different apps and a web browser.
Quickly, we were able to expand the Patreon and added over 300 spots. In the spur of the moment, we decided to settle on 888 backers (8 is a lucky number in Asia, and a nod to our Asian team members). Those spots filled out too, and now our Patreon is fully funded. The next day, the first donation to the Snow Leopard trust was on its way.
As an added benefit, the Matterless closed beta app just got its first batch of testers eager to play around with our digital pets.
Ask Us Anything With The Snow Leopard Trust
As part of our ongoing effort to build the best community-driven Discord, engage with our backers and give regular updates, we organized an AMA with one of the scientists working for SLT. Justine Shanti Alexander is a regional ecologist working to bridge science and activism, combining biology and social-economic issues, with a Ph.D. in the field of wildlife conservation.
We were excited to have Justine come and join the exclusive AMA on Discord for our backers so that we can immediately talk about how the money we raised and donated would be used. Justine, an expert on the life and habits of snow leopards, was happy to answer a bunch of questions and help us understand this endangered feline. Here are some snow leopard facts:
- There is a great deal of uncertainty about the snow leopard’s current global distribution and total numbers, it is roughly estimated as 4000–6500 individuals. For instance, there are only about 100 snow leopards documented in Russia.
- Snow leopards are elusive (occurring at low densities and camouflaging almost perfectly into their environment). Scientists use “camera traps” with motion sensors to photograph snow leopards motiving. Justine studied in the field for FIVE YEARS before she ever saw a snow leopard in the wild with her own eyes!
- This is how we have followed one of the oldest known snow leopards in the wild, named Dagina, which is verified as 12 years old. We also have monitored her mother, Agnes, her cub Presnel, and her grandcub; following snow leopard populations over generations through a long-term ecological study.
- Snow leopards love space — one single male individual will use 230 square kilometers for their living area! But, snow leopard cubs stay with their mother for 2 years at least.
Justine also shared some alarming information on the dangers they face and how the SLT is helping:
- Snow leopards face different challenges in different countries and regions — but the common thread is that the snow leopard’s world is changing fast- and the threats are real! Threats including the direct killing of individuals and their prey- to encroachment on their habitat by unregulated mining and development- threaten the species and their mountain ecosystem.
- The mountains of Asia are at times referred to as the Earth’s ‘Third Pole’: because its mountain glaciers and snow areas store more frozen water than anywhere else in the world except for the Arctic and Antarctic polar caps. The overarching threat of climate change will influence snow leopard ecology and people’s lives in ways we still don’t fully understand.
- SLT puts people at the center of all its efforts; especially people who are already living alongside the snow leopard. This means building conservation approaches that recognize people and communities across SL habitat as equal partners in all conservation efforts; they can bolster larger national efforts. And without their support; long-term success is unlikely. As an example, SLT collaborates with communities through initiatives that try to manage the costs of livestock depredations; such as livestock insurance programs, corral improvements, and livestock vaccination programs.
- Covid has made it very difficult to do fieldwork, even at a national level, but the Snow Leopard Trust approach during this period was to empower local staff and local champions to help, and they were able to continue the work.
- Monthly donations to Snow Leopard Trust help empower local rangers to themselves set up and serve as active leaders in the local camera trap research effort- they set up the cameras, collect them and also support wider monitoring efforts (i.e. hunting, illegal mining, etc.).
What the Future Can Be
Preserving wildlife is a huge challenge, and sometimes it is hard to know what the right thing to do is — but these efforts are helping us learn about the evolving ecosystems around the globe, and in many ways, it is not too late. We can learn and do more.
Visit the Snow Leopard Trust site, join their socials, become more involved in your local community, and most importantly, take action to change the things that bother you. There has never been a better time for it. Our Discord and Patreon story shows that if people have an easy way to help the environment, they will not hesitate to do it.
We are incredibly excited and grateful to be able to carve out a space where the love for animals and the nature that surrounds us can inspire hope and translate into a vision of a greener, more environmentally aware metaverse.
We want to inspire a positive vision of the future, grounded in our existing world, emphasizing the need for sustainability, self-governance, and social justice. We call it a solarpunk future.
Matterless Studios will continue to donate, and partner up with institutions like the Snow Leopard Trust to create meaningful change. This is just the start.
And we’d love for you to join us.
-Damir First, CCO, Matterless
About Matterless Studios
Digital life. Real connections. True Affection.
Matterless Studios is an augmented reality studio building the future of digital relationships, creating outlets for human love, nurture, and creativity. For more information visit www.matterless.com, join the Discord, or follow us on Twitter or right here on Medium.