A feather in their cap: RSPB’s victory that saved millions of birds

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Beccy Speight, chief executive, explains why the 1921 Plumage Act was so crucial – and why the next decade will be more so

A hundred years ago, conservationists scored a remarkable victory in the battle to protect the planet’s wildlife. Members of the newly formed Royal Society for the Protection of Birds persuaded MPs into passing the Plumage Act, banning the import of exotic bird feathers used to make ladies’ hats.

Dozens of avian species were rescued from extinction as a result, an early victory for the RSPB, which had been set up by female activists who were appalled by the slaughter of egrets, ostriches and flamingoes to make modish headwear.

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