BAHAI STATE, Brazil (Storyful/KFOR) – For the first time in 20 years, Spix’s macaws are flying again over Brazil. They were deemed extinct in the wild, but a captive breeding program has led to the release of eight blue parrots back into their natural habitat. Several more will soon follow.

The Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP) and its partners were able to build a population of 180 healthy Macaws in Berlin, Germany. 52 of those have been flown to the Caatinga, “a desert-like half-savannah with a semi-arid climate in the northeast of Brazil.” Eight were released on June 11th.

The teams raised the macaws in an environment similar to their natural habitat, with the goal of their future release.

Spix’s macaws were deemed “extinct in the wild” after illegal trade, hunting, habitat destruction, and other animals wiped out the species in the wild. That’s when the captive breeding program began.

So, how do we know they won’t go extinct again? “This is possible, but the Spix’s projects efforts to secure a large protected area were successful, including restoration of portions of this protected area, with ongoing efforts to expand this restoration. Then the decades of community work have also been hugely successful, and these efforts combined with the added security measures for the region should help protect the species in the habitat. There are never any guarantees, only concerted effort, which we have certainly done for this species,” according to ACTP’s website.

ACTP and the Pairi Daizi Foundation will continue to release the blue parrots back into the wild until the population is able to stabilize naturally.