Motoring News

Journey of Discovery: Land Rover kits-up for malaria safari

  • Aboard a Land Rover for eight-week expedition
  • 6300km safari to chase down malaria mozzies 
  • Portable equipment to effect DNA sequencing
MALARIA MISSION: Image: Land Rover SA
MALARIA MISSION: The team will have a built-in lapa to keep off the hot tropical sun.  Image: Land Rover SA

PRETORIA, Gauteng – Land Rover has been engineering vehicles capable of tackling the toughest terrain anywhere in the world for more than 70 years – which was when the on/off-road wagons were created after the Second World War in the UK.

Through all those years Land Rover has been the vehicle of choice for expeditions and rescue missions to some of Earth’s most remote regions – particularly Africa. Well, another one is set to go, its mission to learn more about Africa’s biggest killer

And the team will have more than just mozzie spray in their arsenal…

MALARIA MISSION: Image: Land Rover SA
MALARIA MISSION: All packed and ready to head for journey through Africa. Image: Land Rover SA

Land Rover is working with the Mobile Malaria Project, winner of the 2018 Land Rover Bursary in partnership with the UK’s Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) as it heads to sub-Sahara Africa to embark on a unique eight-week journey of (aptly) Discovery.

MALARIA CONTROL EFFORT

Three Oxford University researchers, led by Dr George Busby, have kitted up ready to move out en route for a more than 6300km mercy mission across Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya.

They’ll be in a modified Land Rover Discovery – their mission to investigate the challenges facing those on the front line of malaria control in Africa malaria is endemic.

The vehicle, designed and developed by Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations, has been equipped with a mobile genetic sequencing laboratory that makes full-use of the vehicle’s 1137-litre load space.

MALARIA MISSION: Image: Land Rover SA
MALARIA MISSION: Image: Land Rover SA

Not only does the Landy have a fridge/freezer to store scientific supplies but there is also a bespoke load space configuration frame system with specially-designed storage equipment cases and an on-board expedition battery.

DNA SEQUENCING

The exterior has been tweaked, too: there’s a purpose-made dual sun awning (picture top of feature), rescue equipment, a winch, sand/mud tracks, expedition roof rack and diode night driving lights.

The team will be able to trial portable DNA sequencing technology in collaboration with African research centres better to understand how the tech can be used in various locations. This, the Corner was told, will provide important information about the malaria parasite and mosquito populations as well as the efficacy of drug and insecticide resistance.

READ MORE Land Rover features on Carman’s Corner

Dr George Busby, Mobile Malaria Project leader, told The Corner: “Were humbled that Land Rover and the Royal Geographical Society chose our project as the 2018 bursary winner. Global malaria rates have halved from those of 20 years ago but further progress has stalled.

MALARIA MISSION: Image: Land Rover SA
MALARIA MISSION: Image: Land Rover SA

”By working with colleagues in Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya our journey will help us to understand the challenges facing malaria researchers in Africa in 2019.

“The loan of the Discovery not only allows us to visit otherwise inaccessible locations but also gives us the space and versatility to transport the equipment we need. This will allow us to gain a better understanding of how this technology could be used to answer locally relevant questions about malaria parasites and the mosquitoes that transmit them.”

MALARIA MISSION: Image: Land Rover SA
MALARIA MISSION: Off-road adventurers’ dream kit for a long journey. Image: Land Rover SA

The Land Rover Discovery has a 30-year track record of tackling the most difficult terrain to reach threatened habitats and vulnerable people around the world. It has the latest all-terrain capability so should allow the team to travel with confidence – no matter the conditions.

Dr Steve Iley, chief medical officer for Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Malaria is a global issue affecting millions of people. JLR is passionate about using our tech to empower talent and enable experts in their field to make a real difference.

MALARIA MISSION: Image: Land Rover SA
MALARIA MISSION: Image: Land Rover SA

”Through the bespoke tech developed by our Special Vehicle Operations team this project has the potential to deliver a real insight into malaria control globally and I’m proud that Land Rover can be a part of that journey.”

SPECIAL SATNAV TEAM

The expedition group has teamed up with another of Land Rover’s global humanitarian partners, what3words, to accurately plan the route, navigate on the ground, and document their findings.

The Mobile Malaria Project will depart from the UK on March 22 2019 to begin its eight-week expedition. More information about the journey can be found at Mobile Malaria Project .

For the tech-minded or off-roading enthusiasts (and anybody else interested!) here’s a list of the vehicle modifications.

Communications and satnav equipment
Satellite phone: receiver box, antennae and handset
Roof antenna bracket
Electric cut-off switch for antenna
Cupholder charger/dock for iPhone
Garmin GPS

Tracks4Africa Maps
Ability to upload to the cloud in real time
iPads and accessory mountings to control experimental machines
JLR Click ‘n Go mounts and accessories for iPad

Team equipment
Side awnings, with walls x 2 – left and right sides
Tent and awning carriers/containers
Plastic jerry cans for water
Metal jerrys can for fuel
Fire-suppression system

Laboratory equipment
Integrated fridge/freezer for safe storage of reagents needed to test DNA sequencing protocols
Brackets for mounting fridge
Straps
Storage for computers and similar equipment
Rugged cases – Peli Style
Buffalo board load-space cover and clip-down mechanism (under Buffalo board will be recovery equipment / batteries)

Vehicle equipment
Land Rover coil suspension jacking kit and towing eye
“Maxtrax – no wheelspin” plastic recovery boards
Front Runner air crane for soft-surface recovery
4×4 tyres (Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac M+S 255/55/R20)
Spare wheel/tyre (Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac M+S 255/55/R20)
Wire-rope hoist recovery kit and mounting system
Recovery tethers
Gloves and winch/towing bolts and adapters
Expedition roofrack with Rokk waterproof USB charging outlet (and fittings)
Roofrack brackets and mountings
Wiring and connectors for USB outlet
1kg powder fire-extinguisher
Full vehicle wrap for promotion/awareness
Safety film for each window
Supplementary fuel and water jerry cans

Electronics
‘Lazer’ spotlight at each corner and on/off switch
‘Lazer’ T-24 light bar
Surge-protected UK socket and USB power outlet
T-max Leisure battery-charge indicator display
Leisure battery
Battery mount
C-TEK Land Rover battery-charger and user’s manual

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