The Río Ayampe Reserve was established to protect the critically endangered Esmeraldas Woodstar (Chaetocercus berlepschi), a species of hummingbird found only in a small area on the west coast of Ecuador. Much of the land where the Woodstar breeds is owned by the local community of Las Tunas. In 2011, a formal agreement between the community and Ecuadorian non-profit conservation group Jocotoco Foundation (link to fjocotoco.org) was signed to work together to protect the Woodstar.
This area is also home to 386 birds, including several other globally threatened birds from the Chocó and Tumbesian bioregions. These include Grey-backed Hawk, Grey-cheeked Parakeet, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Little Woodstar, Slaty Becard, Ochraceous Attila, and Henna-hooded Foliage-Gleaner. Another interesting animal present near the reserve is the Ghost Bat.