'For every habitat we lose, we eliminate a stronghold for numerous species - and this can mean extinction'
The blue-throated hillstar, which was discovered last year on mountaintops in southern Ecuador, is already critically endangered.
But mining corporations have gained the rights to move in on its habitat to extract metals, which experts say would be disastrous for the bird and other wildlife.
Scientists estimate there are only between 250 and 750 hillstars, which grow up to 5in long. They are unusual among hummingbirds because they are suited to the low temperatures of the Andes, the only place in the world where they live.
The metal-rich landscapes of the South American country have been increasingly targeted for industrial mining. Swathes of tropical forests have been cleared to allow copper, gold and lead to be extracted from large open pits.
If the mining companies take up their new permits, experts fear it will mean almost certain extinction for the hillstar.
Ecuador's national mining agency, Arcom, has been contacted for comment.