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Following from MSN Autos, “World’s Bravest Trucks.” We’ve spent a lot of time in Land Cruisers in the Masai Mara of Kenya and in the Serengeti, including escaping from a charging elephant and having an enormous cheetah jump up onto our hood (you can see the photo of that in my essay, “The Masai Mara Hood Ornament,” at http://www.chilit.org, then look up my name under “Roll of Members.”

Toyota Land Cruiser
In what was the least-desirable “celebrity” endorsement ever, a tape emerged shortly after the September 11 attacks showing Osama bin Laden and the rest of the al-Qaeda hierarchy standing in the Afghani desert flanked by a fleet of Land Cruisers. Toyota obviously had no interest in putting bin Laden in a Super Bowl ad. The official line was that “it is not our proudest product placement,” but a Toyota spokesman added, “It shows that the Taliban are looking for the same qualities as any truck buyer: durability and reliability.”

Despite the vehicle’s legendary off-roading ability — fans call it the Land Crusher, after all — the vehicle’s move from utilitarian rock crawler to luxurious, tech-laden Range Rover fighter has brought controversy for the UN and aid organizations: At nearly 70 grand, the current Land Cruiser is by no means cheap.

Those who feel the contemporary 200-series Land Cruiser is too grandiose can head to Toyota of Gibraltar for a brand-new 70-series. That’s Toyota-speak for the more-spartan Cruiser that has been around since 1984. In the past quarter-century, changes have been minimal: You can order yours with the understressed 4.2-liter inline-six diesel introduced in 1990 that develops 129 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. Toyota of Gib will be happy to supply you with just about any form of Land Cruiser you can conceive, from stock station wagon or pickup to ambulance, fire truck, or even mobile laboratory.

The government of Tanzania in East Africa is proposing that a two-lane truck route, the first of its kind, be built across the famed Serengeti plain, intersecting the annual migration route of the world’s largest concentration of wildlife, and exposing these increasingly rare animals to poachers. The reason is to create a direct route for the transport of rare earth minerals from the Lake Victoria area used in the production of cell phones for China. An alternative route has been proposed that would skirt the Serengeti, that is longer and therefore more expensive to build and operate. See this article for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serengeti_National_Park

We twice have visited the Serengeti and it’s northern extension into Kenya, called the Masai Mara, which itself is threatened by growth of agriculture, poaching and over use for tourism. I wrote an essay on the magnificence of this vast, complex and truly unique wildlife habitat and on big game conservation issues in the area, called Masai Mara Hood Ornament, which was presented to the Chicago Literary Club. It can be found at http://www.chilit.org. Go to “Search.”

If you care about preserving dozens of species of big game in one of their largest and last natural habitats, contact the media, wildlife organizations and search the internet under “road through serengeti national park.”

April 2020
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