Land Cruiser Reports

Fourth report to Michelin, SA, on BFG Mud-terrain tire donations - 30 March 2012.

Three sets of tires have been sponsored by Michelin, South Africa, and they consist of Set A (8 KM1 tires, received in September 2009), Set B (6 KM2 tires, received in September 2010) and Set C (4 KM2 tires, received in November 2011). Three reports have been submitted to Michelin on the use and performance of the first two sets of tires (March 2010, June 2010 & August 2011). This report presents a final summary of the 14 tires from Sets A & B, and the current status of the four tires from Set C.

Between 14 September 2009 and 30 March 2012 at total distance of 63,606 km was driven in thee main substrates.

All tires were individually marked and records were kept on the performance of each tire. During the 63,606 km there were a total 86 punctures. Most of the punctures (n = 67) were caused by sharp rocks and thorns penetrating the side-walls, which happened more regularly when the tires became worn. Sharp rocks were the cause of all punctures on the main tread of the tires (n = 16). Three tires were lost due to a “blow-out” on paved roads (see graph below).

Since all 14 tires of Set A & B have reached the end of serviceable use, a few interesting comparisons can be drawn. There was a marked difference in the durability of the two sets of tires (see below). The Set A tires performed significantly better, with fewer punctures and greater average distance per tire, than those of Set B.

Summary statistics Set A (KM1) Set B (KM2)
No. of tires 8 6
No. of punctures 40 42
Mean punctures per tire 5 7
Mean distance per tire 12,860 km 8,694 km

Among the tires of Sets A & B there were three anomalies that influenced the overall statistics. In Set A, tires A3 (30,780 km) and A7 (23,014 km) performed substantially better than the other six tires, where the average distance was 8,180 km (range: 2,572 – 14,709 km). But, this is dwarfed by the performance of tire B2 (23,908 km) from Set B. This remarkable tire had a total of 14 punctures during its lifespan and was significantly better (by a factor of 4.2) than the rest of Set B, where the average lifespan was only 5,651 km.

Third report to Michelin, SA, on BFG Mud-terrain tire donations - 23 Aug 2011.

Michelin Tyre Company, South Africa, are currently sponsoring BFG Mud-terrain tires to the Desert Lion Conservation project in Namibia. Two set of tires have been sponsored and they consisted of Set A (8 tires, received in September 2009) and Set B (6 tires, received in September 2010). Two reports were submitted to Michelin on the use and performance of the first set of tires (March & June 2010). This is the third report. It contains an analysis and summary of all 14 tires up until 23 August 2011 – a period of almost two years – as well as a comparison between the two sets of tires.

Between 14 September 2009 and 23 August 2011 at total distance of 49,227 km was driven in thee main substrates.

Within the 4 x 4 Tracks and Off-road substrates, the following sub-divisions were recorded, with “Sand/Rocks” (21,186 km) contributing 43% of the overall distance.

4 x 4 Tracks
Off-road

 

The average speed (km/hr) recorded for each major substrate ranged from 94.8 km/h on paved roads to 14.7 km/h in off-road mountainous terrain (see graph right).
 
The load carried by the Land Cruiser was recorded in three categories and a summary of the proportion (percentage of the total distance) driven in each substrate category is presented below.

All 14 tires were individually marked and accurate records were kept on the performance of each tire. During the 49,227 km there were a total 61 punctures. On five occasions sharp rocks ripped through the side-walls of the tires and there was one “blow-out” on a paved road (see photo below). The rest of the punctures (n = 55) were caused by sharp rocks and thorns penetrating the side-wall (72 %) or the main tread (18 %). A substantial effort was made to repair the punctures, but after a while the tires became unserviceable.

A summary is presented (below) of the total distances driven and the number of punctures for each of the 14 tires of Set A and Set B.

There was a marked difference in the durability of the two sets of tires, with the tires of Set A performing significantly better than those of Set B (see below).

Of the 14 tires there are currently only three that are still operational (2 from Set A & 1 from Set B). Excluding the three serviceable tires, the average longevity per tire was 8,180 km for Set A and 5,651 km for Set B.

The frequency of punctures increased substantially with both sets of tires as they became worn by the harsh conditions (see graph below). Set A performed substantially better than did Set B. When the tires were new (up to 10,000 km), punctures occurred at a ratio of 1 : 2,091 km for Set A and 1 : 1,187 km for Set B. Amongst the Set A tires, the puncture to distance ratio increased to 1 : 750 km between 10,000 and 18,000 km, and thereafter it increased dramatically to 1 puncture every 39 km. The Set B tires deteriorated more rapidly and resulted in 1 puncture every 471 km (10,000 – 13,000 km) and then every 141 km from 13,000 to 15,500 km.

Conclusion

The first sponsorship of BFG Mud-terrain tires (Set A) have performed substantially better than the second batch (Set B). Notwithstanding, the traction, versatility and durability of the tires are outstanding and the sponsorship have without question made an important contribution to the research and the conservation of desert-adapted lions in Namibia.

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Second report to Michelin on BFG Mud-terrain tires - 3 June 2010

Michelin Tyre Company, South Africa, sponsored 8 BFG Mud-terrain tires to the Project. The tires were fitted on 14 September 2009. This report presents an analysis of the performance of the tires, up until 3 June 2010. During this period a total distance of 18,526 km was driven in three main substrates (see table below).

Substrate

Kilometers

Roads: gravel & salt

4,272

4 x 4 Tracks

9,237

Off-road

5,017

Total

18,526

Within the 4 x 4 Tracks and Off-road substrates, the following sub-divisions were recorded. “Sand/Rocks” (8,731 km) contributing 47% of the overall distance.

4 x 4 Tracks
Off-road

For further analyses the data for 4 x 4 Tracks and Off-road substrates were combined within the sub-division substrate categories (above). The average speed (km/hr) recorded for each substrate is presented below.

The load carried by the Land Cruiser was recorded in three categories and a summary of the proportion (percentage of the total distance) driven in each substrate-category is presented below.

Roads
Mountains
Sand/Gravel
Sand/Rocks
Sand/River
1000 kg
60%
65%
13%
42%
7%
750 kg
0%
26%
79%
14%
31%
500 kg
40%
8%
7%
44%
62%
N (km)
4,272
2,933
1,066
7,549
2,469

Tire pressures (kPa x 100) were monitored and recorded regularly for each wheel. A summary of the tire pressures recorded in each of the substrate categories are presented separately for the front and rear wheels.

Front wheels
Rear wheels

The eight tires were individually marked and accurate records were kept on the performance of each tire. During the 18,526 km there were 22 punctures. On two occasions the tires were badly damaged by sharp rocks that penetrated the sidewall and the tires could not be repaired. The rest of the tires (n = 20) were punctured by sharp rocks and thorns (14 x side-wall & 6 x main tread), but could be repaired. The schematic layout (below) shows the distances and wheel-position of the eight individual tires during the recorded 18,526 km (red crosses indicate when the tires were damaged).

A summary is presented below of the total distances driven and the number of punctures for each of the eight tires.

  T1 T2 T3 T4 T5 T6 T7 T8
Kilometers 9,878 9,608 18,526 4,173 2,572 6,783 11,401 6,369
Punctures 8 4 0 1 1 1 3 4
Status ok ok ok X X ok ok ok

The frequency of puntures increased substantially as the tires became worn by the harsh conditions (see graph below). When the tires were new (>10,000 km) punctures occured at a ratio of 1:2,091 km. Between 10,000 and 14,000 km the puncture to distance ratio increased to 1:750 km, and thereafter it increased to 1 puncture every 410 km. From 18,000 km onwards the ratio increased dramatically to i puncture every 112 km.

Conclusion. Considering the rugged terrain and demanding conditions, the BFG Mub-terrain tires have performed extremely well. The traction, versatility and durability of the tires have been outstanding.

Click here to download the first report of March 2010 pdf report (276 Kb).

Synchronised movement animation of the Land Cruiser and lions - August 2009

A synchronised movement animation was compiled for the three GPS collared lions in the Hoanib River and the Land Cruiser during a 30-day period in July/August 2009. The animation shows real-time movements of three groups of lions and the Land Cruiser in relation to each other. A red circle appears around the Land Cruiser and the lion when they are being followed and observed. Refer to the key (bottom right) for more information.

Day 1 to Day 15

 

 

Key to movement animation:

Black car icon = Land Cruiser
Blue lion icon = Xpl-3 (Hoanib Male)
Green dot = Xpl-47 (Hoanib Pride)
Red dot = Xpl-10 (Floodplain Pride)

Red circle appears when lions are observed

Refer to the time scale on top of the image - the time runs constantly at 3 seconds per day.

Day 16 to Day 30

Activities of the Land Cruiser from July to October 2008

This is a report on the activities and use of the Land Cruiser, compiled for the Land Cruiser Club of Southern Africa (LCCSA - see link), following their celebrated donation of the vehicle to Desert Lion Conservation. The Cruiser has had a significant impact on the Project. The aim of this brief report is to give feedback to the LCCSA and to demonstrate the value of the donation to the conservation of lions in the Namib Desert.

Presentation to the LCCSA:
On 14 Jan 2009 these results and a detailed report on the progress of the research project was presented to members of the LCCSA during an event held at Safari Centre in Boksburg, Gauteng. Mr Jaco van Schalkwyk, owner of Safari Centre, Boksburg, kindly sponsored the venue and food, Mr Adolf Huester initiated and organised the event, and sponsored refreshments, and Mr Hennie Kotze helped with arrangements and hosted the event. Approximately 35 LCCSA members attended the presentation (photos below - H Kotze).

Report
Mr Hennie Kotze (LCCSA) delivered the Cruiser to Desert Lion Conservation in late June 2008 and fieldwork started on 1 July 2008. The performance of the vehicle, the under difficult field conditions, exceeded all expectations and the following four months (1 July – 31 October 2008) transpired to be the most productive period of research and monitoring since the start of the Project, more than 10 years ago. This achievement is attributed to two factors: the ability of the vehicle to negotiate difficult terrain (e.g. rocks, thick sand, mud, and steep inclines) and its reliability. The latter is considered to be the most important element as it allowed consistent and continuous observations over an extended period of four months. The value of observations on lions, on any particular day, depends on the number of (prior) days that they were observed. For example, understanding the context of the behaviour of lions on Day # 23 (of a continuous period) is considerably more likely and valuable than trying to interpret their behaviour on Day # 2.

Over the four-month period the Cruiser logged 17,329 km.
The map (left) displays a summary (track-log) of all the routes and areas where the vehicle drove (some routes and tracks were driven several times).
A summary of the different roads / substrates (below) illustrate that the Cruiser drove mainly (15,076 km or 87%) on 4x4 tracks and off-roads.

Substrate
Km
Tracks (4x4)
8,838
Off-roads
6,238
Coastal salt roads
1,560
Gravel roads
520
Paved roads
173
Track-log of the Cruiser between 1 July and 31 October 2008
Substrates / roads driven by the Cruiser (N = 17,329 km)

Time summary

Between 1 July and 31 October 2008 a total of 115 days (95% of the available122 days) were spent in the field with monitoring, research, and direct observations of lions (see graph - right). It was possible to maintain such intensity in the research activities and continuous observations on lions, only because of the reliability of the Cruiser. Lions were observed for a total of 1,188 hours (average of >18 hours per day) – something that has not previously been achieved in the study.

 

 

 

Proportion of time spent on different activities (Jul-Oct 2008)

Images of the Land Cruiser in action...
(Move your mouse over the white numbers and click to view photos taken at those locations.)

Movement Animations
In an effort to illustrate daily research activities, the track-log of the Land Cruiser is super-imposed on the movements of the Hoaruseb lions during a 30-day period (29 Sep – 28 Oct 2008) of observation. Similar to the GPS collar animations, the movement patterns of the adult male (Xpl-44 = red dot), the adult females (Xpl-37 & 38 = blue dot), and the Land Cruiser (yellow cross) are presented below using Flash animations to represent real-time events. During this period the lionesses were kept under constant observation. Click on the PLAY button to start the animation. The timeline is constant at 2.5 seconds per day (24 hrs).

Period: 29 Sep - 13 Oct 2008. <> Key: Cruiser (X), lionesses (), male lion ().
Period: 14 - 28 Oct 2008

Comparison between “Hagar” the Hilux and the new Land Cruiser

To illustrated the impact that the new Cruiser has had on the Project a comparison of research activities for a similar time period (4 months) between the Hilux (1 Feb – 31 May 2008: 120 days) and the new Cruiser (1 July – 31 Oct 2008: 122 days) is presented.

Distances and Substrates
The composition of the different substrates driven by the new Cruiser and the Hilux over the same period is not significantly different, although the Hilux spent less time on public roads and did more off-road driving than did the Cruiser. Theses differences, however, are dwarfed by the greater distances covered by the Cruiser. Over the four-month period the total distance driven by the Cruiser (17,329 km) exceeded that of the Hilux by a factor of 1.98 (8,755 km). On average the Cruiser covered 4,332 km/month (142 km/day) and the Hilux only 2189 km/month (73 km/day). This substantially lower work effort by the Hilux is due to mechanical problems and breakdowns (see next section).

The substrates & roads driven by the new Land Cruiser over a four-month period (N = 17,329 km).
The substrates & roads driven by "Hagar" the Hilux over a four-month period (N = 8,755 km).

Time summary
The main difference between the two periods of comparison is reflected by the amount of time spent on different activities. The total amount of time spent in the field during the Cruiser period (97%) is similar to that of the Hilux period (98% - 112 days of the available 120 days), but mechanical breakdowns of the Hilux absorbed 39% of this time and resulted in a significant reduction in the time spent on research, monitoring and observing lions. During the Cruiser period lions were observed for 1188 hours. But as a result of the regular breakdowns of the Hilux the lion observations were limited to only 450 hours.

The proportion of time spent on different activities with the new Land Cruiser (N = 122 days: Jul-Oct 2008).
The proportion of time spent on different activities with "Hagar" the Hilux (N = 120 days: Feb-May 2008).

Advantages & Disadvantages. The advantages of the Land Cruiser in the field are significantly more that the disadvantages. However, in an effort to give a balanced report, both are listed here.

Advantages:
Reliability – both in the short-term and the long-term.
Suspension & clearance – the ability to negotiate very rough terrain.
Power & traction – the ARB lockers & tires allow access over dunes, muddy riverbeds & steep inclines.
“Stealth” – the vehicle is quiet & well camouflaged, this is especially valuable when approaching skittish lions.
Packing space – permitting long periods in the field, without the need to return to base-camp for supplies.

Disadvantages:
Fuel consumption – despite a capacity of 350l, the consumption of 3-5 l/km limits research sessions to 2-3 weeks.
Longevity of Cooper tires – The Cooper tires give fantastic service in the field (with hardly any punctures). However, the intensity of the work and the terrain may reduce their longevity (cracks develop on the outside of the tires after +- 10,000 kms).

These results emphasize the significance of the donation made by the Land Cruiser Club of Southern Africa (move mouse over photo below).

Photo by Laura Brown

Earlier NEWS entries related to the Land Cruiser

25-30 July 2008: Hoaruseb lions. Intensive monitoring of the Hoaruseb lions was started again after a break of almost six months. Following the unusually high rainfall in early 2008, the Hoaruseb River has finally dried-up enough to allow the research to continue. The new Land Cruiser is proving to be outstanding under the field conditions, and the lions are also slowly becoming used to it.

18 July 2008: New Land Cruiser in action. The new Land Cruiser was put to the test in the wet Hoaruseb River and exceeded all expectations. The ARB diff-lock system and the power of the vehicle proved to be outstanding features.

8 July 2008: First field trip with the new Land Cruiser. A few days after Hennie Kotze delivered the Land Cruiser, I set off into the desert to monitor lions between the Springbok and Hoanib Rivers. After 1200 km in challenging terrain - that ranged from sand dunes to basalt rocks and mountains - the new Cruiser exceeded all my expectations. I was most impressed with the power, ground clearance, and the suspension of the vehicle.

A remarkable thing happened during the Cruiser's first introduction to the desert lions. I located a group of eight lions in the Agab River and approached them cautiously. Eventually I got to within 50 metres of them. I observed them for about 20 minutes when, to my utmost surprise, they got up and walked towards me. The lions came right up to the Cruiser (< 1 metre) and lay down all around the vehicle for almost two hours. As it got dark the adult lionesses started stalking a herd of mountain zebras in the distance, but the younger lions stayed with the Cruiser. When I left the lions followed the vehicle for a little while. It was an unforgettable experience.

After the first excursion into the desert I am most impressed with the vehicle. Not only will it fill the shoes of Hagar, but with all the modifications and accessories I believe that the Land Cruiser will take the Desert Lion Project to new levels.