Land Rover Sponsors Arabian Leopard Expedition in Oman
Land Rover, the premium 4x4 manufacturer, will sponsor Biosphere Expedition for the second year to support a survey of Arabian leopards and its prey species like the Arabian tahr and feral goats in Oman.
Biosphere Expeditions, is an award-winning, non-profit-making organization offering hands-on wildlife conservation expeditions for everyone. It encourages participation from ordinary people belonging to various walks of life and age-groups, but having a single mission of seeking adventure with a conscience and a sense of purpose.
The Biosphere Expedition team founded by renowned biologist, Dr. Matthias Hammer, concluded its initial survey in 2006 of the Arabian leopard among the remote mountains and gorges of Musandam. The expedition is especially significant, since the Arabian leopard is the last surviving species of big cat on the Arabian Peninsula and is a severely endangered species.
The 2006 expedition searched hard but found few signs of the leopard and from this the expedition scientist, Tessa McGregor, concludes that "there can only be very few leopards left in Musandam and we may even have found sign of the last one". However, there are some remote areas left, so Biosphere Expeditions is returning to in February 2007 to go even deeper and finish the demanding survey.
The 2007 expedition started on the 14th of January and will last one month. "We look forward to braving the heat, sun and jagged mountains of the Musandam once more", says expedition leader Peter Schuette. "Our team will involve ordinary individuals from all over the world, scientific personnel and local people, who will all come to Oman to help with this important project", says Schuette.
Speaking on Land Rover’s involvement, Marwan Halabi, General Manager: Marketing, said, “We are proud to support this expedition for the second consecutive year. The expedition is in line with Land Rover’s brand values to help make a positive contribution towards a sustainable biosphere through activities initiated locally and on a global level. Land Rover believes in long-term investment, sustainability and preservation of the environment it operates in and this project reiterates our commitment towards achieving this goal. ”
Oman offers a wide range of contrasting landscapes covering high mountains, beaches, desert landscapes of the Empty Quarter, coral reefs and even tropical habitats. To access many of the areas where wildlife is more commonly encountered means visiting remote locations and challenging terrains and these the expedition will cover in Land Rover’s all-new LR3, which has the dedicated, engineering pedigree that makes it the best off-roader in its class.
The LR3’s outstanding on-road and off-road capability and dynamics have been achieved through a number of technological innovations that ensure easy manoeuvrability on any terrain.
The LR3 comes equipped with Land Rover’s patented Terrain Response system, which is activated with just the flick of a switch to maximise traction and optimise driveability and comfort. The driver simply chooses one of five terrain settings on the centre console: a general driving programme, one for slippery conditions (grass/gravel/snow) and three special off-road modes (mud/ruts, sand, rock crawl). Terrain Response then automatically selects the appropriate settings for the vehicle’s advanced electronic controls and traction aids.
Dr. Matthias said, “We are delighted to be sponsored by Land Rover for this event as we already have their support in other countries around the world. Land Rover is crucial in reducing our running and expedition costs by providing the ultimate expedition vehicles, so that we can divert our funds into local projects and people. The Land Rover vehicles will enable us to take our conservation expeditions to some of the most inhospitable and inaccessible places, and provide support to local scientists and conservation efforts through vehicle back-up".
Expedition team members will also undergo rigorous field training, including survival and off-road driving techniques, animal identification, tracking and recording signs of their presence, as well as conducting interviews with local people. Scientific exploration, adventure, remote locations, different cultures and people therefore form the essential elements of this expedition. Hence a positive attitude, general fitness, adventure spirit and an enthusiastic approach are all vital pre-requisites for participation.
The main staging and supply post for this ground-breaking expedition will be located at Khasab, the regional centre of Musandam peninsula. From there the expedition will venture in its LR3s into the remote mountains to establish advanced observation and research camps. Helicopter airlifts will be used for the steepest and most remote mountain plateaus.
Since the expedition will involve tough driving conditions, team members have the option of enrolling in an off-road driving course at any of ‘Land Rover Experience’ centres prior to the event.