| Esmeraldas Woodstar
| Río Ayampe Reserve
| Grey-Backed Hawk
© Francisco Sornoza
December 18, 2014
Collaborating with Ecuadorian partner Jocotoco, Rainforest Trust has supported the purchase of 65 acres to expand the Río Ayampe Reserve.
Located along Ecuador’s Pacific coast, the Río Ayampe Reserve protects critical habitat for the Esmeraldas Woodstar, one of the world’s rarest and smallest hummingbirds. Total populations of the critically endangered bird, which measures only 2.5” in length, are thought to number between 500 and 1,000.
“I’m thrilled that the endangered Esmeraldas Woodstar – always one of my favorite Ecuador endemics – just got a little safer! Found at only a few localities, this tiny hummingbird is protected only at Fundación Jocotoco’s gradually expanding Río Ayampe Reserve,” said Dr. Robert S. Ridgely, President of Rainforest Trust.
Fundacion Jocotoco established the Río Ayampe Reserve in 2012 with the support of Rainforest Trust and other conservation organizations. The new purchase brings its total size to 161 acres.
“Although Jocotoco has been expanding the reserve when and where possible, this latest 60-acre addition being especially important as it’s so close to the river, where the Woodstar nests,” added Ridgely.
The Esmeraldas Woodstar inhabits semi-deciduous and evergreen rainforest along Ecuador’s Pacific coast from sea level to 2,500 feet in elevation. Ninety-five percent of the lowland forest in western Ecuador, however, has been destroyed and converted into cropland and pastures.
In addition, the areas immediately adjacent to the Río Ayampe Reserve continue to suffer from a combination of threats that include over-grazing by goats and cattle, uncontrolled fires, and the construction of new homes and tourist facilities.
To proactively meet these threats and ensure the survival of the Esmeraldas Woodstar, Jocotoco has developed a collaborative relationship with nearby villages. As a result, local residents have proved firm supporters of the reserve’s creation and subsequent expansions.
Jocotoco plans to enlarge the Ayampe Reserve to 700 acres. Once complete, the reserve will stretch for ten kilometers, from the mouth of the Ayampe River to Machalilla National Park.
Other endangered bird species in the area that benefit from the reserve include the Grey-backed Hawk, the Ochre-bellied Dove, the Blackish-headed Spinetail, and the Slaty Becard. The region is also known for its high diversity of rare and endemic plants, and is one of the most important areas for endemic butterflies in Ecuador.