Entomologist for the Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust

Application Deadline: 
15 Dec 2017


Formal Job Title:    Principal Entomologist


The task is to manage a new, purpose-built laboratory for captive breeding, release and conservation of Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing Butterfly (Ornithoptera alexandrae) in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The post offers a unique opportunity to help rescue the world’s largest and most critically endangered butterfly from extinction.

The successful candidate will finalise and fit out the laboratory, capture, introduce and breed the butterflies on foodplants for subsequent release, and report on progress. The work will also involve the development of captive rearing protocols and a research component relating to the larval foodplant. The incumbent will be required to be in residence by mid-2018, initially for a period of three years, and will be employed by New Britain Palm Oil Ltd, with funding from the Sime Darby Foundation.


Many birdwing butterflies are known to be under threat from habitat loss and international trade, and all are protected and monitored worldwide by CITES. The highest priority for conservation action is Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing, which is confined to diminishing habitats in Northern (Oro) Province, PNG.

New Britain Palm Oil Ltd., in association with the Sime Darby Foundation (Malaysia) and the Swallowtail & Birdwing Butterfly Trust (UK) will construct the new laboratory at Higaturu Estate, near Popondetta on the north coast of PNG, specifically to breed Queen Alexandra’s Birdwings in captivity for release back into the wild.

The Position:

The successful candidate is likely to be a post-doctoral entomologist, experienced in insect rearing and management and preferably with knowledge and experience of conservation biology and ecology. Tropical experience will be an advantage but not essential.

The successful candidate will need to work with smallholders in the area to devise and implement measures that will enable the successful outcomes of the breeding scheme to be leveraged for the benefit of the smallholders and other local communities.

Good interpersonal and management skills, and resilience in sometimes challenging conditions are essential. Evidence of good written and oral communication skills is expected, including a track record of published research.

The incumbent will be responsible on a day-to-day basis to the Higaturu General Manager, will work alongside an established team of PNG citizens and expatriates and will manage a small technical staff.

An international Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee will be in support, to include professionals in tropical entomology, conservation legislation and practice, and the construction and running of laboratories under tropical conditions.

There is a generous remuneration and benefits package. Accommodation will be provided on a secured company housing compound, which has good social and sporting facilities.

Candidates are invited to send a full CV together with details of two referees and a maximum two-page covering letter indicating why you think you are suited to this job to henry@sbbt.org.uk, with copies to info@sbbt.org.uk and jobs@nbpol.com.sg by 15 December 2017. Interviews will be held in London and by Skype on Tuesday 16 January 2018.

For further information see the website of the Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust www.sbbt.org and the publication “Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing” by DK Mitchell et al. (2016), which is available from charles@sbbt.org.uk.



Person Specification

Education and Qualifications

  • A degree in life sciences and a Masters or preferably PhD in an entomological field, possibly with ecological and conservation elements
  • Training in web use, IT etc an advantage
  • Training in financial, human and project management an advantage.

Skills and Abilities

  • Technical skills:
    • Handling and management of insects or other invertebrates, preferably with skills in relation to rearing techniques, laboratory sanitation, health and safety
    • IT skills including common Microsoft and other applications, internet usage, website management a distinct advantage.
  • Organisational skills:
  • Experienced in project management, including logframe analysis, target-setting, monitoring, evaluation and reporting
  • Team management, including motivation, planning of resources, security management, health and safety
  • Governance skills, including engagement with line managers, scientific advisors and board members.
  • Drafting skills, including report-writing and scientific publications
  • Presentational skills, small and larger groups
  • Diplomacy, confidence, succinctness, clarity in verbal communication
  • Problem-solving and aptitude for experimental design
  • Wider vision and objectives whilst maintaining progress on near-term objectives
  • Design skills, e.g. for websites and other communications products.
  • Communication skills:
  • Creative skills;

Personal Characteristics and Experience

  • Work experience in academic and/or corporate laboratories
  • Overseas experience; wilderness experience is an advantage
  • Resilience and determination
  • Team-player, diplomatic and sociable
  • Enthusiasm for conservation, wildlife
  • Voluntary work experience.