Forthcoming Land Rover Defender Completes Tough Kenyan Terrain Testing To Support Lion Conservation
The forthcoming Land Rover Defender has moved another step closer to reaching the showroom as its prototype has now successfully completed its latest and advanced stage of pre-launch field testing. And the testing was no small matter, as it took place on demanding Kenyan terrain and supported vital lion conservation work. The testing was completed by Land Rover with wildlife conservation charity Tusk Trust, which it been in partnership with for 15 years. Land Rover has released more images of the Defender, this time undertaking the Tusk testing. The prototype is fitted with an integrated raised air intake and is in a unique camouflage livery, specially devised for the surroundings. For the test, the Defender supported operations at the 14,000-hectare Borana Conservancy in Kenya, tracking radio collared lions and transporting supplies.
Tusk operatives put the new Defender through a series of real-world tests for the programme, as wildlife managers forded rivers, pulled heavily-loaded trailers and negotiated challenging terrain. The prototype was even used to help replace an inoperative tracking collar fitted to a male lion, which was sedated at close range from the security of the new Land Rover. The Defender had plenty of opportunities also to show the range of terrain that it can take on, as the Borana Conservancy contains flat plains, deeply rutted tracks, steep rocky inclines, muddy river banks and thick forests.
“We are now in the advanced stages of the new Defender’s testing and development phase,” confirmed Nick Collins, Jaguar Land Rover’s engineering vehicle line director. “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.”
The test also was done to highlight the critical situation faced by lions across Africa. Three-quarters of lion populations on the continent are in decline and black and white rhinos now outnumber the big cat in Africa. Fewer than 20,000 lions survive in the wild globally, a figure that has declined from 200,000 over the last century.
“This year marks Tusk’s Year of the Lion,” added Tusk Trust chief executive Charles Mayhew MBE. “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.”
Images courtesy of Land Rover