The origins of the Born Free Foundation’s relationship with Land Rover dates all the way back to 1966 when Land Rover vehicles were featured in the film 'Born Free'. The requirement was then as it is now, using Land Rover vehicles to reach wildlife in the most remote locations. It was in 2002 however that an official partnership was launched between our two organisations with Born Free being chosen as one of Land Rover's Global Sponsorship Partners under its Fragile Earth policy.
Our relationship has continued to grow over the years and in 2013 Born Free was announced as Land Rover’s primary global conservation partner, extending and increasing their support for a further 5 years with a particular focus on our work with lions in Africa and tigers in India. Land Rover will also continue to provide us with invaluable support in the field through the provision of vehicles in the following locations: Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, India and the UK.
Mark Cameron Land Rover Global Brand Experience Director said: “Over the past decade we have enjoyed a successful and rewarding partnership with the Born Free Foundation, not least in being able to provide it with vehicles that have the strength and ability to work in some of the world’s most remote and demanding environments. We have seen what a difference the Foundation can make, not just in the rescue, care and protection of big cats and many other endangered species, but also in spreading awareness about how people can adapt their lives and attitudes to ensure a sustainable future for man and wildlife alike.”
Will Travers OBE, CEO of the Born Free Foundation, said: "The Born Free Foundation is on the front line of conservation and wild animal welfare and to get us to that front line we rely on Land Rovers. It is essential not only that we can get in to some truly challenging locations but that we can successfully carry out our mission and get out. Safety, security and reliability are paramount. That is why, on behalf of Born Free and our supporters all around the world, I am deeply appreciative of this renewed support and delighted that our vital partnership with Land Rover continues to go from strength to strength."
The 28th of September saw the successful release of the two magnificent ex-circus lions that the Born Free Foundation rescued from Bulgaria.
Jora and Black’s epic journey took them more than 10,500 miles, via the UK, and concluded on Sunday with their arrival at their overnight camp before final release this morning into their large, naturalistic accommodation at the award-winning Shamwari Game Reserve.
The two eight-year-old lions started their journey ‘home’ from a halfway house in central Bulgaria to Bourgas Airport on the Black Sea coast, late on Friday, 25th September. From there they were flown by Thomson Airways to London’s Gatwick Airport where legendary actress and Born Free co-founder, Virginia McKenna OBE, was waiting to give them a warm welcome.
Virginia said: “Born Free has successfully moved many captive animals but each occasion is unique in its own way. I am really happy to have seen these two lions at Gatwick before they head to their African homeland. I hope their story will inspire people to treat wild animals with respect and understanding, and never subject them to totally inappropriate existences in captivity. Jora and Black are flagship animals for the ending of all wild animals in circuses. Let all countries follow Bulgaria’s example.”
On arrival in Johannesburg, Jora and Black were transported by road. A convoy of Land Rover Discovery vehicles and trailers completed the journey to Shamwari Game Reserve, near Port Elizabeth. Born Free staff, friends and local media watched with delight as Jora and Black were released into their new enclosure, setting paws on Africa soil for the first time.
Mark Cameron, Jaguar Land Rover Experiential Marketing Director, said: “Our vehicles are designed with the power and ability to safely transport heavy and precious cargo. We were delighted to be able to support Born Free with the relocation and to ensure that Jora and Black had the most comfortable ride possible to their new home in Africa.”
Within the beautiful Meru National Park in Northern Kenya, homeland to the film ‘Born Free’, a new initiative has been launched to protect and conserve generations of lions to come. ‘Project Lion Rover’ will see the Born Free Foundation work together with Land Rover, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), and the local Meru community to conserve this extraordinary landscape’s wildlife population by providing critical equipment to those tasked with protecting them, and establishing sustainable initiatives to tackle issues such as snaring and poaching, through education and community involvement.
The Meru landscape is home to up to 50 of Kenya’s estimated 2,000 remaining wild lions. It is the perfect habitat for many of Africa’s most iconic species, and also an ideal environment for the growing local human population. As a result of living in such close proximity, conflict can occur between human and lion. Villagers’ livestock has occasionally been taken by lions, whose natural prey base is being affected by loss of habitat as villages expand. Widespread use of snares has also been responsible for trapping, maiming and even killing lions on occasion.
With funds provided by Land Rover, phase one of the project saw Born Free purchase and deploy critically important equipment including tents, laptops, binoculars, cold weather clothing, cameras and GPS tracking units to the local KWS team tasked with the protection of wildlife in the area.
Land Rover has announced its support of Born Free’s Satpuda Landscape Tiger Programme (SLTP) which works to protect the Bengal tiger and its habitat throughout Central India. By supporting the SLTP Land Rover continues its global partnership with Born Free, one of the key partners of the SLTP which established the Programme with the University of Oxford’s WildCRU ten years ago.
Mark Cameron, Global Brand Experience Director, Jaguar Land Rover, said:
“This incredible project allows us to cement our strong relationship with the Born Free Foundation to help protect the Bengal tigers and their surrounding communities.
“By working with the SLTP partners we can underpin key conservation strategies across the landscape with healthcare and education programmes to spread the key conservation messages across the tiger reserves. This collaboration with the SLTP partners and local communities is crucial to ensuring the safety, protection and well-being of the tigers, and the people who live close by.
“The project’s Land Rover vehicles with their all-terrain capability have played a vital role in supporting this programme, enabling the team to reach areas which would otherwise be inaccessible and safely deliver personnel and equipment into, and out of, the most challenging situations.”
Virginia McKenna and Will Travers rolled up their sleeves to help assemble the two-millionth Series Land Rover and Defender to roll off the production line at Land Rover’s Solihull plant.
The pair were part of a 22-strong team of famous Defender fans, including adventurer Bear Grylls and entrepreneur Theo Paphitis, who helped construct the bespoke vehicle. Virginia fitted the number plates, while Will worked on wheel alignment and took the vehicle through the rolling road test.
Born Free Foundation Founder and Trustee Virginia McKenna OBE said: “Despite being seriously unmechanically-skilled, I was given the great privilege of attaching the number plates to this very special Defender. Land Rover has been in our lives since 1964, when my husband Bill and I went to Kenya to film ‘Born Free’. Each day we went out in our vehicle with George Adamson and a lion; out on to the plains for our early morning walk.
“Fifty-one years later, Will and I were in the Land Rover assembly plant and learning about the history of this unique company. A history in which we are grateful to still play a small part.”
Born Free Foundation President Will Travers OBE added: “The Land Rover Defender is part of Born Free’s DNA. Its vehicles permit us to carry out some of our most challenging conservation and wild animal welfare work. To have the chance to spend even a few minutes with the passionate vehicle assembly teams, helping put together a motoring icon, felt like making history.”
The bespoke ‘Defender 90’ features a plethora of unique finishing touches, including a plaque signed by everyone who helped assemble the vehicle, and a special ‘no 2,000,000’ badge.
The vehicle will be publicly unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed held on 25-28 June. It will then be auctioned at a prestigious charity event at Bonhams auction house, in London, on 16 December. Funds raised from the auction will be shared between Born Free and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Dr Ralf Speth, Chief Executive of Jaguar Land Rover, added: “Giving people the chance to buy this truly distinctive Defender to raise funds for the IFRC and Born Free Foundation is a suitable way to celebrate the role that Defender has played in supporting our humanitarian aid and conservation partners over the decades.”
In April 2015 Land Rover joined former President of the FDRE, Girma Wolde-Giorgis, Born Free’s Founder Virginia McKenna OBE and numerous other faces to mark the official opening of Born Free’s new Visitor and Education Centre at our Wildlife Rescue, Conservation and Education Centre, Ensessakotteh. Land Rover have donated significant funds towards the development of this remarkable new building, which will enable hundreds of school children each year to learn about Ethiopia’s rich wildlife heritage and understand the vital importance of wildlife conservation and animal welfare, and have also generously provided funds for the creation of a brand new lion enclosure that will provide a natural and a desperately needed refuge for rescued lions.
Land Rover provided invaluable support once again during the relocation of our rescued lionesses Maggie & Sonja to our Big Cat Rescue Centre in South Africa.
After touching down in Johannesburg on Wednesday 21st January 2015, the sisters’, who had been rescued from a circus in Germany, were handed into the expert care of Land Rover Experience for the last leg of the journey to their new home at the award winning Shamwari Game Reserve in Port Elizabeth. Maggie and Sonja travelled in specially arranged trailers, towed by Land Rover Discovery vehicles, and once they had arrived, were released straight into their large natural enclosure, where they were introduced to the sights and sounds of Africa for the first time.
Richard Gouverneur, Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa was elated with the news of Maggie and Sonja’s safe relocation. He said, “It’s difficult to imagine the hardships faced by these lions, and sad that people could even do this to animals meant to roam free. Land Rover is proud to have been part of their 6 000 mile journey that now sees these majestic animals set paw on African soil, where they’ll have a second chance to live out their days in a nurturing and natural environment.”
Land Rover Sub Sahara Africa have provided significant funds to our lion-proof boma project in Kenya helping us to build 100 bomas in the Amboseli – West Kilimanjaro eco-system and safeguard the country’s diminishing lion population. With Kenya being one of the species’ last strongholds, conservation within the country is vitally important for the future of these incredible animals.
Due to increasing human encroachment lions are losing more and more of their habitat resulting in increased conflict with local communities, especially those with livestock-based livelihoods. Born Free’s lion-proof boma project provides a simple, cost effective approach to protecting livestock from predation helping lions and farmers to co-exist without conflict.
Land Rover recently provided Born Free with much needed vehicle support for the re-location of Simba the lion from Belgium to the Lilongwe Wildlife Rescue Centre in Malawi. The trek began with Land Rover sending a six-strong convoy of Land Rover Discovery vehicles and an expert team from Land Rover Experience over to Belgium to transport Simba and the team from his temporary home to Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport.
After a long flight to Lilongwe, with a brief stop-over at Nairobi, Simba was greeted by yet another fleet of Land Rover vehicles comprised of an Evoque, a Defender and a Discovery 4 all of which had been collected from the nearest official Land Rover dealership, Alliance Motors in Lusaka, and driven all the way across Zambia into Malawi by Land Rover Experience, Kyalami, in time to meet Simba and his excited entourage right beneath the Kenya Airways aircraft.
It was the silver Discovery 4, complete with the signage of the Born Free/Land Rover partnership, that was assigned to make the journey to the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre with Simba in tow, heading up a convoy of vehicles filled with interested parties eager to learn how the star of the show would settle into his new abode alongside long-term resident Bella, the lioness who hopefully will soon become his companion for life.
Heavy rains had ensured the narrow access roads leading to Simba’s enclosure were decidedly muddy, but notwithstanding the heavy load on tow, the Land Rover Discovery 4 in the skilled hands of team members of Land Rover Experience, Kyalami, delivered its precious cargo to much applause from the eager gathering.
Mark Cameron, Jaguar Land Rover Global Brand Experience Director, stated: “During the past decade Land Rover has enjoyed a successful and rewarding partnership with the Born Free Foundation. I am therefore delighted that our Land Rover Experience team has been able to help with the safe relocation of Simba from Belgium to Malawi.”
He added: “Born Free has worked tirelessly to ensure Simba enjoys the rest of his life in his new home. I am very proud that through the towing capability of our vehicles and the experience of our Land Rover Experience drive team, we can help this become a reality.”
Land Rover was pleased to support the world's largest event to highlight the plight of the tiger. ‘Tiger Tracks’ was a three-week programme of activities and promotions at St Pancras International rail terminus in London, organised by ‘Save Wild Tigers’, to raise funds for vital tiger conservation work and build public awareness about the threats that could render the tiger extinct in just 10 years.
The event concluded on 21 March with a high-profile charity reception and dinner at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. The evening included a charity auction to help bring in valuable funds for the Save Wild Tigers' project and the work of the Born Free Foundation and Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), with Land Rover donating a years use of a new Range Rover Evoque.
Mark Cameron, Jaguar Land Rover Brand Experience Director said: "We at Land Rover are very happy to be able to help in raising funds for this extremely worthwhile cause, a world without wild tigers is unthinkable and therefore we need to do everything possible to avoid such an outcome."
Some very special guests joined the All-New Range Rover Global Media Drive in Morocco - a dozen Luey the Lions were created by the award-winning Land Rover Design team based in Gaydon, Warwickshire.
The life-sized fibre-glass lions made appearances between the Atlas Mountains, to the Palais Namaskar, stretching all the way from Essaouira to Marrakech.
Luey the Lion stemmed from a recent collaboration between Land Rover and Born Free Foundation (Land Rover's Global Conservation Partner), as part of a series of public arts wildlife exhibition.
Mark Cameron, Land Rover Global Brand Experience Director said; "We are delighted that we're able to show our support to Born Free, our Global Conservation Partner, as well as involve our very own designers for creative collaborations."
"Our Luey the Lion sculpture is inspired by our famous 'HUE 166' - the very first Series 1 Land Rover, which is affectionately known throughout the business as 'Huey'. Luey uses the same colours, graphics and textures from this icon, celebrating both our association with the Born Free Foundation and our long heritage."
Virginia McKenna, Founder of Born Free Foundation said; "Born Free's heritage with Land Rover goes back to the days of Elsa, George and Joy Adamson and the film Born Free, in which I acted with my late husband Bill."
"Today Born Free's association with Land Rover is stronger than ever, through our charity work for conservation and wild animal welfare around the world. I am so delighted that Luey the Lion is flying the flag for both Land Rover and Born Free on this exciting adventure."
The public art installation exhibitions are part of a series of global events in which Land Rover has been collaborating with the Born Free Foundation. Starting in 2008, Go Elephants in Norwich and the Land Rover elephant helped Born Free to raise £100,000 and in 2010, the Land Rover Lion in Pride of Northampton helped to raise £32,500 for Born Free. In September 2011, Land Rover helped Born Free raise £75,000 in the Pride of Bournemouth, with BFF ambassador Martin Clunes. In March 2012, Queen's Brian May helped to launch the Pride of Cape Town along with another Land Rover Lion and in September 2012 Go Safari Northampton also raised funds for Born Free's vital conservation work to protect and conserve wildlife in the wild.
On 26th November 2012, a pair of Luey the Lions was presented to the Mayors of Marrakech and Essaouira, respectively, for the local townships as a thank you legacy gift. A pair of Luey the Lions will also permanently reside at the Palais Namaskar in Marrakech, Morocco.
Following Morocco, the remaining Luey the Lions toured the UK and are making global appearances around the world in 2013.
Land Rover and the Born Free Foundation collaborated once again for the Go Safari Northampton Wild in Art event in the summer of 2012 to create Luey the Lion who joined the plethora of safari wildlife sculptures prowling the streets of Northampton. He was created by the award-winning Land Rover Design team based in Gaydon, Warwickshire. Luey was inspired by their very first prototype vehicle and has now been purchased by the company.
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 Born Free Foundation 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 2012, the members of the South African Born Free Foundation were also given some 4x4 driver training from Land Rover Experience. The goal of the Land Rover Experience Training Centre is to equip Land Rover owners 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.”
Land Rover also supported Born Free’s Pride of Cape Town by sponsoring one of the lions.
A specially adapted Land Rover is helping rescue orphan elephants in Sri Lanka. Funded by an anonymous Born Free supporter and officially presented by TV’s Coronation Street actress Helen Worth, the Rescue Vehicle can rescue baby elephants with minimum distress and bring them to the safety of the Elephant Transit Home. With winches and a tail lift, plus a fridge for medicines, the Rescue Vehicle has countless uses for helping wild animals in need all over Sri Lanka.
Two Defenders are an invaluable help to Born Free’s anti-poaching activities in Kenya. Poachers use wire snares to trap animals and thousands of wild animals are illegally slaughtered for the commercial ‘bushmeat’ industry. Within two weeks of the first vehicle going into action it enabled brave wardens from Kenya Wildlife Service and Youth for Conservation to get to areas previously out of reach, as well as remove hundreds of snares and apprehend two poachers.
Proceeds from Land Rover have contributed towards the rescues of Djunka, Nala and Shada from a French circus and the development of the Jean Byrd Animal Rescue and Education Centre.
Born Free is committed to education and works to inspire children to learn about and respect wildlife and look after their environment. In Kenya, the new Land Rover Defender helps Youth for Conservation’s (YFC) eager and enthusiastic team of graduate volunteers to tell local people about wildlife. The vehicle allows YFC to visit communities throughout Kenya and lead education workshops with school children as well as set up tree-planting and rubbish clean-up programmes.
The Born Free Foundation joined Land Rover and the other Humanitarian and Conservation Partners at the Royal Geographical Society in November 2011 for an exhibition that showcased the invaluable work of the 6 Global Partners. The exhibition also saw a lecture by Land Rover’s Ambassador Ben Saunders, ‘The Insights of a Polar Explorer’.
Land Rover are the sponsors of the annual Royal Geographical Society (RGS) event. Held in March, Born Free are given a full weeks exhibition space and use of the main theatre for one night during that time to host an evening of talks. The topic changes each year, with previous talks including ‘ My travels with big cats’, ‘Living with wild animals’, ‘Elephants; the big picture’ and in 2009, ‘This is my Born Free life’, looking back over the past 25 years of the Born Free Foundation’s work.
Generous sponsorship money from Land Rover helped stage the ‘Wild & Live’ concert at the Royal Albert Hall on November 14th 2009. The event saw a whole host of singers, musicians, dancers, and other performers join together with a common goal; to help save the lives of 25,000 animals. On the night, Land Rover also supplied a fleet of cars used to transport the artists from their hotels, and from various other locations in and around London.