Land Rover has reaffirmed its support for the outstanding work done by the Born Free Foundation (BFF) by sponsoring a new Defender 130 Double Cab for the local team, based at the Shamwari Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. The new Defender 130 was handed over to Born Free by Land Rover South Africa earlier this month.

The Born Free Foundation is a UK-based wildlife charity with projects worldwide, and has been one of Land Rover’s Global Conservation Partners since 2002.

As the only BFF facility in South Africa, the Shamwari centre was first opened in 1999, and forms part of the Foundation’s Big Cat Campaign. It comprises a sanctuary that cares for big cats rescued from around the world, as well as educational facilities to promote awareness and conservation of wild animals in their natural habitat.

Land Rover has enjoyed a long association with the award-winning Shamwari Game Reserve, and is proud to support the outstanding conservation efforts at the reserve, in partnership with the Born Free Foundation.

“Globally, Land Rover has taken a leading role in working with the world’s top humanitarian and conservation organisations,” explains Kevin Flynn, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and Sub-Sahara Africa. “We have an unwavering focus on corporate responsibility, environmental awareness and sustainability, and this permeates through every aspect of our business.”

“By sponsoring a Defender for the Born Free Foundation at Shamwari, we’re assisting this commendable wildlife charity to not only provide a safe haven for rescued big cats from around the world, but also to educate people in order to protect our precious wild animals and natural resources for future generations,” Flynn states.

The Defender 130 Double Cab is used for all aspects of the Foundation’s activities, and is a crucial sponsorship, according to Abagail Gardiner, manager of the Born Free Foundation Rescue and Education Centre at Shamwari.

“The vehicle sponsorship is critical to our programme, as it is used for everything we do, from sourcing food for the 17 hungry cats we have at our facility to carrying water, towing a heavy trailer, and travelling between the two sanctuaries we have at opposite ends of the game reserve,” Gardiner says.

By virtue of the tough conditions in which it operates, and the fact that it is used every day, the vehicle needs to be both rugged and dependable. In addition, when it’s not deployed for its regular tasks, it is roped in to ferry VIP guests, or used for various community projects in the surrounding region.

“The Defender 130 Double Cab perfectly meets our needs due to its practical interior space to carry our team and guests in safety, and its ability to move heavy loads over difficult terrain,” Gardiner states. “The sponsorship and keen participation from Land Rover South Africa is central to our success and the well-being of our big cats, and the long-standing support is greatly valued and appreciated.”

At the official hand-over of the new Defender in May, the members of the South African Born Free Foundation were also given some 4×4 driver training from Land Rover Experience. The goal of the Land Rover Experience Training Centre is to equip Land Rover owner’s with the confidence needed to enable them to gain the maximum enjoyment from their Land Rover and to fully appreciate their vehicle’s capabilities in a responsible and environmentally friendly manner. We like to think that we not only teach people about their Land Rovers but that we provide them with a passport to a new and more adventurous lifestyle.

The extensive two-day training programme was conducted by Pierre Versfeld, lead instructor from Land Rover Experience Western Cape. The training focused on safety and the essential skills for off-road, gravel and on-road driving.

Associated with the correct driving techniques, Versfeld provided practical guidance in terms of preventative maintenance, tyre care, reducing unnecessary wear and tear, as well as minimising the vehicle’s impact on the environment.

“It was an extremely informative and worthwhile course, and all of us have gained a new appreciation for the astonishing capabilities of the Defender,” Gardiner says.

“More importantly, the Land Rover Experience training has helped us understand how to make the most of the vehicle’s all-round abilities, and we’re all far more aware of the capability of the Land Rover Defender as well as our own abilities in a wide range of driving situations. This will enable us to use the Defender more efficiently and effectively.”