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Dr Jayson Ibanez is trying to save the Philippine eagle

This article appears in: Alumni stories, Environmental Sciences
Dr Jayson Ibanez, Philippine eagle in background

Dr Jayson Ibanez’s attachment to the national bird of the Philippines, the critically endangered Philippine eagle, has spanned almost 30 years of study and conservation work. It all started with an article in an old magazine. 

Philippine eagle

“When I was in high school, I saw photos of the Philippine eagle in an old National Geographic. I immediately fell in love with the bird,” he says.

While studying wildlife biology at university, his interest in saving the species was solidified before finding a role as a biologist with the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF). 

When I was finally doing it as a professional career, the realisation that eagle conservation is also protecting nature, improving lives of the poor and revitalising my Indigenous cultural roots made me decide that this work is my life’s purpose.

Jayson eventually became chief scientist and now leads the research and conservation program of this NGO as director.

Choosing CDU

Dr Jayson Ibanez with Obu Manuvu elder Lipatuan Joel Unad
Dr Jayson Ibanez with Lipatuan Joel Unad, an elder of the Indigenous Obu Manuvu community in the Philippines

Deciding where to continue his dedication to studying the Philippine eagle was a no-brainer. 

With the very strong program on natural resource management and Indigenous engagement and development, CDU was my top choice.

He notes that his experience and PhD training in the Northern Territory contributed to PEF’s culture-based conservation approach. 

His PhD dissertation, “Knowledge Integration and Indigenous Planning in the Philippines”, has become a model for fair and meaningful engagement of marginalised Indigenous communities in species and nature conservation.

“My mentors at the Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL) led the way, and my immersion with the Yolngu Dhimurru Rangers of Nhulunbuy was very foundational.”

"My dream is to go back to Nhulunbuy with a few of our Indigenous partners in the Philippines to thank my Dhimurru hosts and also initiate conversations and ties between Mindanao and NT Indigenous communities."

Research, results and recognition

Dr Jayson Ibanez with a Philippine eagle

As a successful conservation biologist, Jayson is highly regarded in the field with a plethora of prestigious awards to his name – including the International Alumni Award at the recent Charles Darwin University Alumni Awards.

He has written and received at least 40 conservation grants, lectures at the University of the Philippines, and engages in public speaking for youth and early career professionals.

You’ll also find Jayson in international wildlife documentaries, including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “Bird of Prey” and Dan O’Neill’s “Queen of Birds”. 

More importantly, he is creating real change for his country’s critically endangered national bird. 

Not only has he pioneered research and improved scientific knowledge on the Philippine eagle, but results of his research have provided a vital blueprint for a national species action plan.

As Philippine eagle habitats are important natural carbon sinks, Jayon’s work also contributes to climate change remedies and helping his country cope with the challenges of the modern world. 

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