Twenty-eight scarlet macaws from the record-breaking macaw-breeding program in Xcaret Park were released in southern Veracruz after months of acclimatization to life in the jungle, bringing the number of birds introduced into the wild since 2012 to 142.

The 28 birds were set free in the Nanciyaga nature reserve in Los Tuxtlas where they will join a flock of 150 macaws now living free in the forests of this mountainous area.

The Xcaret birds were tagged and some also have chips so that biologists can track their movements. They are also working with area communities to convince villagers to protect the macaws and other wildlife rather than poaching them for the illegal species trade.

It is estimated that the population of wild scarlet macaws in Mexico now stands at around 450, including birds in the Lacandon region of Chiapas that fly across the Usumacinta River to neighboring Guatemala. With further releases planned for this program coordinated by Xcaret, UNAM and reserves in Veracruz and Chiapas, it is hoped that this figure will rise to 600 or more in the coming years and that the birds will begin to breed, slowly bringing this beautiful bird back from the brink of extinction.