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Last Updated: Friday October 27 2006 06:51 GMT

Wild bird ban 'saving thousands'

A toucan

Hundreds of thousands of rare and exotic birds have been saved from death or a life in a cage, campaigners say.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said a temporary ban on bringing wild birds into the UK - which is exactly a year old - had really helped birds like parrots, owls and toucans.

Without the ban, the charity said thousands would have become caged pets with loads of them dying on journeys.

The RSPB is worried the ban on bringing birds into the UK will end.

Spokesman Sacha Cleminson said: "The import ban has thrown thousands and perhaps millions of birds a lifeline and it would be a tragedy if the ban were to be lifted when it is reviewed in December."

A parrot

The ban was brought in October 2005 after birds coming into the UK died from a strain of bird flu while in quarantine in Essex.

Quarantine is when animals coming into the country are kept away from people while they are checked for diseases.

Figures show that the pet trade is threatening 60% of the world's 350 types of parrot and one in 10 of the 1,200 bird species now at risk of extinction.