The new Defender is a deeply important product for Land Rover, as the nameplate represents the very roots of the company as a maker of go-anywhere, do-anything 4x4s. As such, the rugged off-roader – set to be unveiled later this year – has gone to a number of interesting and far-flung places to prove its mettle, and its latest assignment has taken it all the way to Kenya to take up some lion conservation duties.

With its longstanding partner Tusk Trust, Land Rover put the Defender through its paces in the Borana Conservatory, as wildlife managers used it to ford rivers, pull heavily loaded trailers and negotiate challenging terrain. It even helped in the sedation of a male lion at close range, in order to replace an inoperative tracking collar. The lion is, of course, a highly endangered species, with less than 20,000 left in the world.

Anyway, these images give us a better view of what the new Defender will look like, as the masses of disguise are being slowly taken off. We can now see some of the details of that bluff front end, including the large ring-shaped daytime running lights surrounding the LED headlights, the slim grille and air intakes and the large protective skid plate that sits underneath.

The Defender’s iconic boxy silhouette remains, and Land Rover appears to have taken great care to maintain some of the key styling details of the original, such as the squarish wheel arches and the shoulder line that sits just below the window line. As is typical of Land Rovers these days, the Defender now sports front fender vents on both sides, although, judging by the snorkel on the left side, only one of those is functional.

The flat rear is perhaps the best indicator of the new Defender’s off-roading prowess, being completely devoid of any ornamentation save for the externally mounted spare wheel and a beefy rear bumper with visible tow hooks. The tiny square tail lights bring to mind the almost afterthought-looking items on the car’s predecessor, although it’s unclear whether these will actually make it to production.

Land Rover remains mum on the details, but we do know that the car will be offered in two wheelbases and in three- and five-door variants. Expect the new Defender to be built on Jaguar Land Rover’s Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) – or even its own bespoke ladder-frame chassis, like the new Mercedes-Benz G-Class – with air suspension and a range of Ingenium inline four- and six-cylinder engines.

The company has previously confirmed that the Defender, which in April managed to hit a combined 1.2 million kilometres in testing, will be built in a recently unveiled plant in Nitra, Slovakia. That may seem like sacrilege to those that view the nameplate as being quintessentially British, but Land Rover claimed that all of the design and development work has been done in house at its Gaydon base.