From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
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Kong Tokens are special items that only appear in Donkey Kong Land. They are large coins (nearly the size of the Kongs), and they depict Donkey Kong's head on a side and Diddy Kong's head on the other side. This is shown from how the Kong Token constantly flips between sides.
Kong Tokens are common items that are scattered throughout each level. They are found in hard-to-reach locations, hidden areas (including Bonus Levels), and even in plain sight. Kong Tokens are only used in certain Bonus Level challenges. In them, there is a Button Barrel that quickly moves around, and Donkey Kong or Diddy Kong can jump on the corresponding button to release the Kong Tokens individually. For each Kong Token that the Kong catches, they are awarded with an extra life. The Kongs must repeatedly jump on the button until all of their Kong Tokens are released, after which the Button Barrel cannot release any more tokens.
The game does not save the number of collected Kong Tokens. Therefore if the player resets the game, all of their Kong Tokens are lost.