Land Rover and the Born Free Foundation have been partners in many ventures involving the welfare of animals but it was Simba’s recent journey from Belgium to Malawi that attracted the most media attention.

Simba, a nine year old male lion, had spent all his years in captivity in Belgium but thanks to the intervention of the Born Free Foundation, together with interested parties in Belgium, it was arranged for Simba to be received as a new resident of the Lilongwe Wild Life Centre.

Here, he would be provided with a spacious enclosure filled with natural habitat that would provide him with an environment which he has been deprived of for all his years.

Simba is loaded onto the trailer at Malawi Airport ready for the last leg of his journey

A journey of more than 8000 kilometres requires a lot of planning but once all the detail had been finalised, Simba was loaded into his purpose-made crate and delivered to Schipol Airport (Amsterdam) from Belgium by a Land Rover Experience Team.

A short-stopover at Nairobi Airport saw Simba relocated onto a flight to Lilongwe where he was greeted on the apron by a huge team of well-wishers made up of Born Free Foundation directors and staff, carers from Belgium, the international press and Land Rover staffers, not least a team from the sub-Sahara Africa office based in Pretoria.

Indeed, transporting Simba from Lilongwe Airport to his new sanctuary on the outskirts of the city had been the subject of much planning by the team from the Land Rover Experience, Kyalami.

Three vehicles – an Evoque, a Defender and a Discovery 4 – had been collected from the nearest official Land Rover dealership, Alliance Motors in Lusaka, and driven all the way across Zambia into Malawi in time to meet Simba and his excited entourage right beneath the Kenya Airways aircraft which had been especially consigned to carry this precious cargo.

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 the Land Rover Experience, Kyalami, delivered its precious cargo to much applause from the eager gathering.

Indeed, the Born Free Foundation, represented by Marketing Director Anne Tudor, expressed its deep gratitude to Land Rover and to the team from sub-Sahara Africa for the assistance provided in relocating Simba. “This team has driven a long, long way to provide the final link in the relocation of Simba and we are all immensely grateful for the support and commitment shown in helping the Foundation realise its noble objectives.”

In response, Willem Schoeman, Marketing and PR Manager for Jaguar Land Rover sub-Sahara Africa, expressed his satisfaction with the positive outcome of this very newsworthy event, saying:  “Land Rover has enjoyed a long-standing partnership with the Born Free Foundation and it is a great pleasure for Land Rover sub-Sahara Africa to have assisted in realising one of the stated objectives of the Foundation which is to provide wild life with the best possible living environment.”

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