- African lion get their share of Defender testing
- Camouflaged Landys used by wildlife rangers
- Hauling supplies, river crossings, in conservancy
PRETORIA, South Africa – The latest Land Rover Defender has, the automaker says, moved a step closer to production after a demanding test programme with Tusk in Kenya while also supporting lion conservation.
A prototype Defender fitted with a raised air intake and pre-launch camouflage was taken to the 14 000ha Borana Conservancy to track radio-collared lion and to carry supplies.
Land Rover has been an official partner of the Tusk wildlife conservation charity for 15 years and 2019 is its Year of the Lion – an initiative to highlight declining lion numbers in Africa
The programme allowed Tusk staff to put the Defender through real-world testing as rangers forded rivers, pulled heavy trailers, and tackled challenging terrain. The vehicle was even used to help replace a male lion’s dead tracking collar, the big car sedated at close range from the security of the new Defender.
The Borana Conservancy has flat plains, deep-rutted tracks, steep rocky inclines, and muddy river banks for the new Defender to showcase its breadth of capability.
‘PERFECT FOR TESTS’
Nick Collins, Jaguar Land Rover’s vehicle line director, told The Corner in a media release: ”We’re now in the advanced stages of testing and development . Working with our partners at Tusk in Kenya enabled us to gather valuable performance data.”
The reserve is said to have a wide range of challenging environments – as JLR says, ”a perfect place to test to the extreme the all-terrain attributes of the new Defender”.
Land Rover reports that it has been a Tusk partner for 15 years and the Defender was put to work in the conservancy to support lion conservation and to highlight their critical situation.
About 75% of lion prides are in decline: black, and white, rhino now outnumber them. Fewer than 20 000 survive in the wild – a figure that estimated to have been 200 000 a century earlier.
Charles Mayhew, Tusk’s chief executive, reported: “2019 is Tusk’s Year of the Lion. We people to realise the alarming decline in the number of lion across Africa. Fortunately there are a number of prides within the conservancy so tracking and monitoring them across this vast and tough environment is vital.
”We must protect them while reducing conflict with neighbouring communities. The new Defender took everything in its stride, from deep-river wading to climbing rocky trails.”
The overall initiative was supported by Jaguar Land Rover’s worldwide logistical partner and supporter of Tusk, DHL, to help celebrate 2019 as Tusk’s Year of the Lion.
The new Land Rover Defender will make its world premiere later this (2019) year but potential buyers can register interest with Land Rover.