Weekend Wrap: 7th key rhino bust, #WorldElephantDay and 8 SpringTrips to try

Cape Town - While rhino poaching and smuggling crackdown continues, African elephants remain under threat due to the Ivory trade.

While SA tourism grew by some 12%, in fact Chinese travellers are loving Africa as the perfect escape from a current heat wave, the US has reported a decline in people wanting to visit the US. And while a new hybrid boat plane could be revolutionising marine travel, we ready to dig into a good-old-fashioned spring road trip. 

Here are the weekend's travel stories you might have missed, but need to know about. 

7th key rhino horn bust in SA for 2017 as Zim woman nabbed at OR Tambo

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, has congratulated members of the Environmental Management Inspectorate, also known as the Green Scorpions, for their assistance in the arrest of an alleged rhino horn smuggler at the OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday, 10 August 2017.

The DEA says a 30-year-old Zimbabwean woman was arrested after suspicious items were noticed by private security personnel during scanning of her check-in luggage and reported to customs officials who, in turn, called the Green Scorpions to assist with identification of the items.  

This is the seventh key arrest at OR Tambo for 2017, yet as the crackdowns increase at SA's points of entry, a dark cloud of around an upcoming rhino horn online auction still looms. 

While the DEA has affirmed it does not allow rhino horn to be traded internationally, global animal protection organisation, Humane Society International’s (HSI) Vietnam branch, is calling on the SA “to honour its commitment to protect rhinos by refusing permits for an online auction of rhinoceros horns”, saying that it “appears to be targeting buyers from the world’s two largest destinations for trafficked rhino horn, China and Vietnam”.

SEE: Vietnam NGO calls on SA to shut down rhino horn auction 

#WorldElephantDay: Don't let them disappear!

And as Rhino poach shows a slight decrease with more arrests locally, the plight of Africa's elephants were highlighted yet again on Saturday 12 August for World Elephant Day.  

In a recent update on rhino poaching stats for 2017 in July, the department of environmental affairs confirmed 30 elephants were poached in Kruger National Park alone. 

While the world's CITES foundation agrees globally poaching and illegal trade in ivory is decreasing - the reality remains that by 2030 Africa’s elephants could be extinct.   

Adding its weight behind the issue, Amarula has launched limited edition bottles without the iconic African Elephant - in addition to its digital conservation project #NameThemSaveThem.

The #DontLetThemDisappear campaign is hoping to drive the conversation message across SA, the USA, Canada, Germany and Brazil.  Click here to see three simple ways you can help raise awareness.  

International travel to US drops for first time since 2009

As South Africa's international tourism grew by 12%, outperforming its benchmarked destination Thailand and Australia for travel in 2016, the US has confirmed the number of international visitors to its shores has dropped for the first time since 2009, as did their spending .

The US Department of Commerce said Friday in 2016, 75.6 million international travelers ventured stateside, a two percent drop from the previous year. Their spending also fell by one percent to $244.7 billion (about R3.2 Trillion at R13,44/$)

The figures account for people journeying to the US for business, medical, education and leisure reasons.

Travel and tourism however remained the largest services export out of the US, making up 33 percent of services exports and 11 percent overall.

 Airfish 8: New boat-plane hybrid to change marine transport

Singapore company Wigetworks has patented a brand new mode of transport, called the Wing-In-Ground, or WIG for short. It's a type of plane that hovers across the water, docks a jetty like a boat, but runs on the engine of a car, and could potentially revolutionise the island ferry industry as well as give emergency services easy access to difficult places.

Spring is around the corner. In case you didn't know it, South Africa is one of the sunniest countries in the world, according to the World Meteorological Organisation - which makes spring the best time to enjoy those golden rays without melting from the heat - the top places to chase the sun may just surprise you - take a look here.

Also, this past week we hosted our #SpringTrips twitter chat to see what SA's travelling community had to suggest.

While the Northern Cape's Namaqua and the Western Cape's West Coast were all touted as some of the ultimate spring road trip experiences in South Africa - there are a few others to consider - Check out these 8, whether to see the flowers or the unique attractions across the gorgeous country we call home.  

Spring is after all the season when everything gets to take a new lease on life. Re-energise and refresh yourself by planning around this bumper spring bucket list of events - we have 50 spread across SA to get excited about

We'll also be delving even deeper into our local heritage as we inch closer to September - come join in our next twitter chat on Friday, 18 August when we'll be talking SA Heritage Travel - click here to see the questions.

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