Summer School Final Project: Cryopreservation for Conservation

Hey you guys!

So I just finished my summer school recently. It was such a fun experience, too bad everything was online! But still fun!

Well, anyway we had to do a final project to pass the class. The final project was to create an imaginary NGO to increase biodiversity. So we had to create the strategy, what we wanted to do and how, the amount of money we needed, the business plan and so on. Then we had to pitch our ideas to (imaginary) philanthropists so they will fund our project. The philanthropists are our lecturers, of course šŸ˜€ So yea, I thought it’d be fun to share it on my blog!

I wont share the detail of our pitch but I just gonna share what we came up with and some literatures that supported our idea.

Well, here you go, our (imaginary) NGO:

Frozen for Future (F4F)

So basically, our idea was to combine in situ and ex situ conservation, which are protected area network and cryopreservation. So we wanna use the technology of cryopreservation to help the species reproduce and so they can restore their habitat/ecosystem as our long term goal. In other words, we want to reintroduce the species back to their habitat and hoping for a trophic cascade just like the wolves in Yellowstone National Park.

So, how does that work anyway? And what is cryopreservation in the first place?

Well, at first our idea was to save sperm and eggs of animals as our way to conserve the species. So, just like a sperm bank that we humans have, we wanted to create one for animals. But then, one of our teammates felt like itā€™s not nice if we only think about the animals, how about the other species? Of course they are important as well right? Then we found the name of the technology of saving the sperms/eggs/embryos etc which is cryopreservation. So basically we store the cells/tissues or other biological constructs (so it is not only for gametes and embryos; not only for animals! Can be used for bacteria, fungi, plants, insects, birds, fish etc) in a very low temperature.

Actually, while doing the research I stumbled upon so many interesting projects and researches. But, I am trying not too get distracted in this post or it will be a very long post hehe. So I will probably just gonna post them next time (you can find the articles etc in the reference list below).

Anyway, lets go back to cryopreservation.

So, apparently this technology is not new but still not that common. Maybe those who are studying natural science are more familiar with it but since I am a layman so I had no idea that we use this technology for conservation. So this technology has been used mainly for animals. At first, it is used commonly for livestock and big mammals. For example, thereā€™s an NGO that used this method to help Rhino reproduce in South Africa.

Ah yea, I am going to focus my explanation on animals, mainly big mammals as the research that I did mainly focused on them.

So, we can get the biological construct from either dead or live animals. But of course, if itā€™s dead then we have the time constraints as you need to collect the samples as quickly as possible. After that, we could do ART or assisted reproductive technology such as artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization or embryo transfer. It is then up to the scientists/NGOs/etc whether they want to keep the animals first (captive breeding) or release them back to the wild while they are pregnant. The one that we chose for our imaginary NGO was to keep them in our facility so we can monitor if the ART works perfectly.

Then, before we release them to the wild, we still need to prepare the active site first and also check their health and do disease screening. We also wanted to put identification tag so we can monitor the succession of our project to release them back to the wild. Apparently the cost of rewilding is very expensive. There are a couple of sources in which I got my approximation of the cost of rewilding the animals and since I was trying to get funding from philanthropists, I just used the highest estimation that I could get. So I assumed that we are going to release big mammals back to the wild, lets say big cat like lion/leopard/cheetah (they all have different estimation by the way). Then I assumed that we are going to release 20 individuals. So, I will need around 3 million euros to release 20 individuals for one year period (including intensive monitoring of the species, mobilization, staff salary etc). Of course this estimation is a very simple estimation that I did in less than one day hahaha because there is actually a way to estimate the cost but I just didnā€™t have enough time to do proper research. But, if I see news and literatures about rewilding, this project is indeed expensive.

So yeah, thatā€™s just a little bit about our final project for the summer school. It was a fun project but I would say it was a very intense one because we only had 3 days to work on it. Still though, I am pretty pleased that our group got a high mark for this project (20/25) woooo!

As always, please find the sources for our project below. Unfortunately, I dont really note what my friends used for their research but mostly it has been covered by the sources I listed in the file. I also put some interesting articles that I found online. Have fun reading! Lemme know what you think!

Cheers,

Kemmy

Source

(This project was done while studying theĀ M.Sc. ā€œEnvironmental Managementā€ atĀ Christian-Albrechts UniversitƤt (CAU) in Kiel, Germany)

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