The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have vowed to combat the illegal poaching of abalone, a coveted shellfish facing extinction after being sold on the black market.
Campaigners hope the the Duke and Duchess, who will embark on their tour with their son Archie, will raise awareness of the abalone, which is suffering its highest poaching levels in the last 20 years in South Africa, according to a recent report.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have vowed to combat the illegal poaching of abalone, a coveted shellfish facing extinction after being sold on the black market
It is just one of the engagements themed around conservation on the ten-day African trip, planned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with other work focusing on endangered lions, elephants and rhinos.
On the second day of their tour, which kicks off in South Africa, the Duke will join the City of Cape Town Marine Unit to travel by boat to Seal Island, Kalk Bay, to learn about the important role they play in fighting the poaching of abalone.
As Captain General of the Royal Marines, Prince Harry will be join them as he learns how they have been providing training to the local units on one of the country’s most significant illegal wildlife trade concerns.
Prince Harry and Meghan will also travel to Angola and Malawi, and undertake a short working visit to Botswana, between September 23 and October 2, the palace said in a statement.
During an official tour to Southern Africa, Prince Harry, 34, and Meghan, 38, will shine a spotlight on the prized delicacies, which can sell for up to £420 a plate in China
Suggesting it would be an opportunity for the Duke and Duchess to ‘highlight many of the causes they’ve been involved with for years’, the statement read: ‘This will be Their Royal Highnesses’ first official tour as a family.’
In a post shared on their Sussex Royal Instagram account, the Duke and Duchess said they are ‘excited’ to announce the details of their 10-day tour – before sharing a series of photographs, including a poignant snap of Princess Diana.
The statement added: ‘In a particularly significant and poignant journey, the Duke of Sussex will have the opportunity to return to Angola to see first-hand the legacy of his mother the late Diana, Princess of Wales, whose visit to Huambo in 1997 helped raise awareness of the threat posed by landmines to communities and livelihoods.’
Abalone: the most expensive shellfish in the world
The abalone, a gastropod mollusk, is widely regarded as one of the most lucrative and expensive shellfish in the world.
Nicknamed the ‘ear shell’ for its uncanny resemblance to the human ear, it is traditionally found in warm waters near Africa, New Zealand and Mexico. But it can also be found off the coast of the UK.
Its value comes from its delicious meat and beautiful shell, which is iridescent and a shocking shade of blue which can be made into jewellery.
Another reason why the shell is so expensive is because it is very difficult to catch. Camouflaging to the algae and hiding in nooks and crannies, the shellfish also sticks steadfast to rocks.
The abalone runs a high risk of extinction, and many countries cap its capture at twenty per fisherman a day.
But illegal poaching of the shellfish means its numbers are dropping drastically, and it is on the edge of dying out.