Editor's letter (June 18 issue)

In this week’s issue we’re kicking off with a new 10-part series looking at the Avicultural Society’s efforts to save certain exotic species in captivity.
  These efforts by Britain’s birdkeepers to breed birds as diverse as toucans to bulbuls have taken on special significance thanks to the ban on wild-caught bird imports to the EU. When this “temporary” ban was introduced back in late 2005, many of us laboured under the misapprehension that as soon as it was lifted, we’d be able to replenish stocks. 
The cold hard reality hit when the ban was extended indefinitely in July 2007. With no new birds coming into the country, we would have to make do with those birds already in our care.
Now, three-and-a-half years after the ban was first introduced, it’s no exaggeration to say that the situtation for some of our exotic species is becoming “make or break”. 
It’s clear from talking to those who breed exotics in the UK that more co-operation and communication is needed between birdkeepers, whether professional or otherwise.
Indeed, we have been surprised, and in some cases shocked, at the responses we have received when approaching certain birdkeepers for their help in compiling the articles that comprise this series. In one instance, we were told that the birdkeeper in question simply wasn’t interested in taking part; another wanted to know what was in it for him before rudely hanging up the phone.
If this is the response we get in our efforts to help promote these species, is it any wonder that our birds are at risk of dying out in aviculture? Thank goodness, then, that many co-ordinators of the Special Interest Groups went out of their way to help. We hope you enjoy reading about their efforts in the weeks to come...