PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, Nov. 3 (UPI) — Fake watches and knock-off handbags may be the preferred contraband elsewhere, but in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, it’s abalone smuggled to China. Abalone smuggling is not just a huge business, but also a glimpse at the lineage of a particular criminal class in modern South Africa, The New York Times said. This group is about to wipe out the gastropod upon which it feeds, the Times said. Abalone poaching has become so rampant – overwhelming the licensed industry – that it threatens to erase the species from the southern tip of Africa.
The government recently slashed the legal abalone limit by nearly 45 percent, saying the species’ preservation required it. People across Asia think of abalone as an aphrodisiac or a symbol of good luck, the Times said. As poachers nearly stripped California’s white abalone to extinction, the South African variety has become increasingly prized by abalone gourmets. (Read the whole article on Science Daily.com).