Land Rover puts new Defender through its paces in Kenyan conservation initiative
Land Rover’s Defender is a battle-proven testament to British engineering. From the depths of the Amazonian jungle to the frozen Arctic tundra, the Defender has covered millions of miles across the most extreme terrain the world has to offer.
That’s some big boots to fill. But Land Rover is sure that the new Defender can live up to its predecessor – so sure in fact that it deployed a prototype to Kenya, to support its official partner wildlife conservation charity, Tusk, on a lion conservation initiative.
And following Tusk’s demanding testing program, the next generation Defender is now one step closer to production.
Wearing a unique camouflage, specially devised for the surroundings, and fitted with an integrated ‘snorkel’, the prototype Defender supported operations at the 14,000-hectare Borana Conservancy, enabling conservationists to transport supplies and track radio collared lions. In one instance, rangers sedated a lion from the safety of the car, before replacing his tracking collar.
The Tusk team put the Defender through a series of their everyday challengers, from pulling heavily loaded trailers to fording rivers, and negotiating tough off-road terrain, including rutted tracks and steep rocky inclines. On average, they would spend 6 hours in the vehicle per day, covering around 100km.
Commenting on the next generation Defender, Nick Collins, Vehicle Line Director at Jaguar Land Rover, commented: “We are now in the advanced stages of the new Defender’s testing and development phase. Working with our partners at Tusk in Kenya enabled us to gather valuable performance data. The Borana reserve features a wide range of challenging environments, making it a perfect place to test to the extreme the all-terrain attributes of the new Defender.”
With African lions in huge decline – from 200,000 a century ago to fewer than 20,000 now – the Land Rover partnership is of equal importance to Tusk, helping to support its lion conservation program and highlight the critical situation faced by the big cats.
Tusk Chief Executive Charles Mayhew MBE, said: “This year marks Tusk's Year of the Lion. Our aim is to raise awareness of the alarming decline in lion populations across Africa. Fortunately, within the Borana Conservancy, there are a number of prides of lion and tracking and monitoring their movements across this vast and tough environment is vital in order to protect them and reduce any conflict with neighbouring communities. The new Defender took everything in its stride, from deep river wading to climbing rocky trails.”
The next generation Land Rover Defender is set to make its world premiere later this year.