KING OF THE JUNGLE
Written by Andre James
Photos courtesy of Land Rover
Eagerly anticipated by fans of the iconic off-road vehicle, Land Rover inched closer to production of its newest iteration of the Defender with the successful completion of a demanding testing program in Africa.
Carried out at the Borana Conservancy in Laikipia, Kenya in partnership with Tusk, a prototype Defender—fitted with an integrated raised air intake and wrapped in a camouflage design devised for the surroundings—helped to track radio-collared lions and transport supplies. The Conservancy, one of Kenya’s largest, is home to some of Africa’s most iconic and endangered species. The sanctuary utilizes a holistic mix of tourism, ranching, and other enterprises to support the livelihoods of the human population while enhancing the integrity of the ecosystem.
Tusk operatives were able to put the Defender through its paces in a series of real-world scenarios that included river crossings, towing heavily-loaded trailers, and negotiating challenging terrain encompassing flat plains, deeply rutted tracks, steep rocky inclines, muddy river banks, and dense forests. “Working with our partners at Tusk in Kenya enabled us to gather valuable performance data,” said Nick Collins, Vehicle Line Director for Jaguar Land Rover. Charles Mayhew MBE, Chief Executive of Tusk, added: “The new Defender took everything in its stride, from deep river wading to climbing rocky trails.”
Land Rover has been an official partner of Tusk for 15 years. While the test program was influential in tweaking the new Defender, it also presented an opportunity to highlight the critical situation faced by lions across Africa. Over the past century, the number of lions living in the wild across the globe has dropped from 200,000 to less than 20,000. Today, black and white rhinos outnumber the big cat in Africa.
The new Land Rover Defender is scheduled to make its world premiere later this year.