A Visit to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre

Last weekend, Zeenee, Saivhes and I visited the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre. It was a good experience and would recommend anyone looking for a quick getaway from Klang Valley to check this place out.

The Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre is an elephant sanctuary located in Temerloh in the state of Pahang, Malaysia within the Krau Game Reserve. The Centre was established in 1989 by the Malaysian Department of Wildlife and National Parks, and forms a base for the Elephant Relocation Team, which since 1974 has been rescuing problem Asian elephants whose habitats are being lost to cultivation or development and relocating them to suitable habitats such as Taman Negara The Centre also aims to raise public awareness and support research, and has increasingly become a popular tourist attraction since its existence began to be publicized in 1997.

It’s about a two hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. Once you arrive at the place, you will be required to register at the main office. There is no entrance fee though a donation is always welcomed. Once we registered, we were given stickers which served as an entrance ticket and then headed to the main reserve area.

It’s basically a forest which has been cleared out with cemented pathways leading to the area where the baby elephants are kept. You will be allowed to feed the baby elephants which are in some sort of a wooden enclosure. Sugar canes for the elephants can be purchased here.

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Saivhes feeding a baby elephant

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We saw about 7 baby elephants here waiting to be fed

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Maveen showing Saivhes around while waiting for the “Elephant Show”

The feeding session starts at about 11.00 am till 1.00 pm. Then you have an option to head back to the main office, where a short documentary on this sanctuary will be screened. We decided to skip this and just relax in the main area. It was filled with luscious green trees and felt good just relaxing there.

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Plenty of Greenery and tall trees

At about 2.00 pm, the larger and older elephants are brought to the area. According to the announcer there, these elephants are kept in the forest reserve and are brought out from the jungle after a few kilometers of walking, guided by their respective handlers. The announcer was actually impressive,well versed in both Bahasa Melayu and English, he seemed to have memorized his script so well, complete with actions and intonations

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A great announcer

Once the elephants arrive at about 2.00 pm, they are taken to the river for a bath. When the tide is not too high, visitors are allowed to take a bath with the elephants but be cautious! There is a signboard there which states that the river may contain some bacteria which may not be suitable for people with certain illnesses such as skin problems, diabetes and such.

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Elephants bathing in the river. Observer what the handler is holding

Here’s a short video we recorded as well:

We then have the “Elephant Show” and this is the part which I could not really comprehend. The elephants are brought to a stage and are guided to perform some very basic tricks such as standing on two feet etc. I just felt that this was not necessary. You could see the elephant handlers actually using a stick with a sharp hook to guide the elephant around. I guess the reason why this show is held in the first place is to attract visitors and raise funds for the conservation.

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Once the show is over, it’s time to go home. There’s nothing much after that. You can still stay on and watch the baby elephants. One word of caution, there aren’t any restaurants nearby the area. There is a cafe at the sanctuary but hardly any food there. It’s advisable to pack some food (sandwiches etc.) and have them at the sanctuary. There are lovely benches and mini huts where you can have a picnic.

All in all, it’s definitely worth visiting this place. You could make a day trip, be one with nature and enjoy the elephants. I mean, what more could you ask for!

Kugan Kumar

V.Kugantharan is the founder of Joy With Music, where he teaches adults and kids the joys of playing the piano. He also runs a web design agency, 504 Studios. A father of a very "opinionated" four-year-old, he divides his time between his passions -- blogging, reading, music, design and books.

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