Winner of the Whitley Award donated by The Shears Foundation in memory of Trevor Shears

Last stronghold

The Philippine eagle is one of the largest eagles in the world. Endemic to the Philippines, the species is Critically Endangered, with over half the remaining nesting pairs found in unprotected forest on Mindanao Island. Despite being heralded as the country’s national bird, the Philippine eagle is threatened by destruction of nesting sites as a result of deforestation, accidental capture in traps set for wild pigs, and illegal hunting by farmers in retaliation to predation of domestic animals and livestock.

Jayson Ibanez

Indigenous land

Mindanao Island is home to 17 indigenous groups of people, with those living in remote rural areas remaining socio-economically and politically marginalised. Poverty often forces local people to sell off land to survive, which in turn threatens eagle habitat. Philippine eagles use their nesting sites repeatedly, making the protection of nesting territories key to population recovery.

Philippine eagle

Conservation symbol

As the Research and Conservation Director at the Philippine Eagle Foundation, Jayson has implemented a holistic approach to conserve the species. His work has led to the adoption of ‘Local Conservation Areas’ as a strategy to manage 500km2 of eagle habitat, with the help of 350 indigenous people employed as forest guards to protect eagle nesting sites and prevent hunting. To date, more than 450 households have benefitted from increased income through sustainable livelihoods, improved access to clean water, health services and education. In doing so, Jayson is lifting families out of poverty, whilst safeguarding eagles and the forest.

Indigenous forest guards observing raptors

With his Award Jayson will:

  • Scale up his project to enable community conservation across seven nesting sites, reaching over 20% of known Philippine eagle nesting territories.
  • Collect data on the ecology of and threats to Philippine eagles, to inform policy and underpin management both locally and across the archipelago.
  • Conduct educational outreach, and work with policy makers to increase commitment and capacity for the effective management of eagle nesting territories as Local Conservation Areas.

Why it matters:

  • Fewer than 400 nesting pairs of Philippine eagles remain in the wild.
  • Protection of the Philippine eagle will also conserve other endemic wildlife making it an umbrella species for the Philippines.
  • 40,000 ha of forest are cleared each year on Mindanao Island due to commercial timber extraction, unsustainable farming practices and mining.

“Conservation decisions should be made at the local level, where benefits can be maximised.”

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