©Amanda Hancock
Award winner 2024
Location: Puerto Rico

Hana Weaver

Hana Weaver is a conservationist dedicated to helping the Puerto Rican Sharp-shinned hawk bounce back from the brink of extinction. She leads a unique recovery programme that successfully raises and releases this beautiful endemic bird.


Hana has been laser-focused on protecting the Puerto Rican sharp-shinned hawk ever since 2018. In that year, Puerto Rico was struck by Hurricane Maria, which devastated both communities and natural habitats. This includes the Caimitillo Forest, which is located in the high mountains of Puerto Rico and is home to the Puerto Rican sharp-shinned hawk. This rare raptor is the only avian predator in the understory forest ecosystem on the island and, after the hurricane, only 19 individuals were found. Hana sprang into action and gave all she had to protect this rare raptor.

To safeguard the Puerto Rican sharp-shinned hawk population, Hana developed a never-before-attempted breeding programme. She converted a small bedroom into a fully functioning incubation and rearing facility to hatch and raise these rare birds, attending to the eggs and chicks day and night.

Once ready, the young birds were moved to a release site specifically tailored to the species, where they ultimately found their way back into their montane forest habitat. Now, six years after Hana first started, many released individuals are thriving in their natural habitat and the Puerto Rican sharp-shinned hawk population has doubled in size. Over the years, Hana grew within her role as a conservationist and developed her unique programme that can now be used as a model for island raptor conservation.

While conservation work in Puerto Rico is not easy, with island ecosystems facing great challenges, Hana has noticed there is a lot more community awareness and pride around the Puerto Rican sharp-shinned hawk nowadays. By training and empowering local field biologists, she increases local capacity for research and conservation, to develop a sustainable recovery effort.

Vision and Approach

Raptors such as the Puerto Rican sharp-shinned hawk play essential roles in their ecosystem. By protecting this top predator through a successful breeding and reintroduction programme, Hana helps to conserve the special island ecosystem in Puerto Rico. She taps into the strong connection between the local communities and nature with the aim of creating a sustainable community-driven conservation programme.

Impact of the Future For Nature Award

With the FFN Award prize money Hana will:

  • Grow and strengthen her ongoing recovery and conservation programme for the Puerto Rican sharp-shinned hawk.
  • Provide specialized training and important equipment for her team to successfully locate, monitor, and manage the population of hawks in the wild.
  • Expand the impact of her project, protect more hawks, and further increase community awareness of the species.
Hana's success in achieving this is truly impressive and required strong biological skills, discipline, commitment, passion and team-building. She has a tremendous vision for achieving the near-impossible when most people would give up.
Dr. Simon Stuart