THE LAND ROVER Defender has been the vehicle of choice for conservation work in Africa for a good chunk of recent history due to its no-fuss durability, with Land Rover being the official partner of wildlife conservation charity, Tusk, for 15 years.
So it makes sense that Land Rover chose to show off its upcoming model in Kenya, by supporting Tusk in its most recent lion conservation initiatives.
The prototype of the latest incarnation of the classic off-roader was tasked with navigating Kenya’s 14,000-hectare Borana Conservancy, the domain of a variety of terrain – flat plains, rutted tracks, rocky inclines and river banks – to track radio-collared lions and transport supplies. The initiative aimed to shine a spotlight at the critical situation faced by lions across Africa. Sadly, fewer than 20,000 lions now live in the wild.
“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,” Nick Collins, Vehicle Line Director, Jaguar Land Rover, said. “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.”
As can be seen in the above gallery, the 2020 Defender test mule wore a unique camouflage devised for the surroundings, as well as an integrated raised-air intake. The Defender was also tasked with pulling heavily loaded trailers.
4x4 explore: 4x4 trip through the Kalahari, southern Africa
Charles Mayhew MBE, Chief Executive of Tusk 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 2020 Defender will premiere later this year.