Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre, Pahang

The Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) waiting happily to be fed sugar-canesFinally got to visit the much talked-about Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre in Pahang a few month’s ago! Thanks to David, our elder son who kindly volunteered to drive and accompany us, knowing that his parents have never been there before. The casual drive from Kuala Lumpur took a little over 2 hours and we reached our destination around 10.15 am.

The Elephant Conservation Centre at Kuala Gandah, located within the bio-diversified wilds and protected region of Krau Wildlife Reserve, was established in 1989 by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) as a permanent base for the Elephant Capture and Translocation Team that began the elephant translocation programme in 1974.

An Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) walking with a limp due to an amputated left forefootThe only one of its kind in Malaysia, this Team is dedicated to locating, subduing and translocating wild elephants where their habitats were encroached by plantations or other human development, to other suitable habitats throughout the Peninsular such as Taman Negara. The dedicated team has helped to prevent the further decline of these gentle mammals, the Asian Elephant (Elephus maximus) and relocated more than 500 wild elephants thus far.

At the visitors information centre, Kuala Gandah Elephant Orphanage SanctuaryAt the visitors information centre of Kuala Gandah Elephant Orphanage Sanctuary (its other popular name as orphaned elephants in the wild are captured and tendered here too), you get to enjoy a video presentation on issues affecting the wild elephants, their diminishing habitat and translocation, as well as glimpse through informative wall posters on various elephant-related topics/activities.

One such poster is on the objectives of the Centre :

Overall

  • The conservation of the elephant and its habitat through sustainable management, in tandem with the aspirations of the nation

Immediate

  • Ensuring the protection and management of the elephant and its habitat
  • Enhancing the public’s knowledge, awareness and support on the importance of elephant conservation
  • Managing the Elephant Conservation Centre as a center for research, education, as well as economic and eco-tourism activities

Visitors to the Elephant Sanctuary are welcomed to participate in the daily activities, like elephant-riding, feeding and grooming the elephants or helping with the bathing of the animals in the nearby stream. The latter being done around 3pm, so we had to miss out on this event as David had to return home early for other engagement. These activities usually commence from 12.30pm onwards.

We were fortunate that a busload of Japanese tourists coincided with our visit that weekday morning, otherwise just the three of us wouldn’t have been much fun, I think! Hence, we were all properly attended to by one of the centre’s staff who explained much about the Centre, its establishment, mission and efforts, etc. with a loud hailer and led us through the other activities available.

Four young elephants with their respective trainer were led close-by to show us some tricks and basic commands that they’ve learnt. Amazing to observe each trainer whispering the commands into the elephant’s ear…intelligent creatures, huh! Really fun to see these gigantic creatures up-close, the minute details unseen usually from afar and to feel their roughened and bristled skin, not to discount the many precious photos captured. Lovely too to see the excitement and thrill on the faces of the visiting crowd, especially the ladies with their giggles, smiles and chattering as they ‘queued for photo shoot’.

My beloved spouse, John and the Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus)The Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) lying on its side as instructed by its trainer

Fun-time included feeding the larger elephants, four of them that were under the covered shelter. More giggles and laughter followed as we took turns feeding the elephants with sugar-canes! Incidentally, I just love this candid shot (the left picture below) of my beloved hubby being given a body pat by the gentle and grateful elephant after being fed with a piece of sugar-cane…such a loving and sweet gesture by the largest mammal among the lot seen that morning!

Thankful Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) giving my hubby a gentle body wrap with its trunk, after being fed sugar-cane!Feeding sugar-cane to the Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus)

Activities continued with the elephant rides with further excitement from the Japanese crowd. Though we didn’t opt to ride the elephant, it was fun just watching and taking snapshots!

Riding on the Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) at the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation CentreRiding on the Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) at the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre

We left the Elephant Sanctuary before midday and headed straight for Karak for lunch at Restaurant Yik Kee that is popular for its roasted duck and durian-filled pastries.

For John, my beloved and I, it was truly an enjoyable and enriching half-day trip, well-spent too with our loving son, David who had been to this Elephant Sanctuary, three times before.

A big thank you to the dedicated staff of the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre for their timeless dedication and caring efforts for God’s gentle and magnificent creatures, The Elephant!

National Elephant Conservation Centre
Department of Wildlife & National Parks, Kuala Gandah
(Jabatan Perhilitan Kuala Gandah)
28500 Lanchang
Pahang Darul Makmur, Malaysia.
(Tel: +609-279 0391; Fax: +609-279 0398)

Opening hours: The Centre is open from 8.00am to 4.30pm daily but activities mostly begin from 12.30pm onwards to 3.45pm.
Entrance is free though donations are most welcome. Advisable to make prior reservations or visit early for elephant rides and bathes activities as quota per day is 120 persons only for these two activities.

Getting there :
From Kuala Lumpur, take the Karak Highway heading towards Lancang District, passing the Karak Village along the way. At Lancang, turn left into the road just before the BP station, then follow the ample direction signage towards the Elephant Sanctuary. You will pass an Orang Asli settlement before reaching the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary. The 160km road journey from Kuala Lumpur takes about 2-2.5 hours.

Sir David Attenborough said, "If elephants are to survive, human beings will have to be convinced that these magnificent, intelligent creatures are entitled to retain some share of the living space left on earth."

There are two main species of elephants in the world, that is, the African Elephant (Loxodonta africana, the largest land mammal) and the Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) which is slightly smaller than its African relatives.

Currently, the Asian Elephant is listed as a critically endangered speices, with less than 40,000 wild elephants in Asia and a maximum of 1,200 in Peninsula Malaysia.

Some information on the endangered Asian Elephant, the largest living land animal in Asia:

  • Scientific name: Elephas maximusOne of its trainer mounting/riding the Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) at the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre
  • Common name: Asian Elephant
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Proboscidae
  • Family: Elephantidae
  • Genus: Elephas
  • Species: E. maximus
  • Distribution: Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Indochina, Nepal, Indonesia (primarily Borneo), Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, China, Bhutan and Sumatra the Asian continent of China, Sri Lanka, India, Sumatra, Philippines and Peninsula Malaysia
  • Shoulder height: 2-3.6 m
  • Weight: 3,000-5,000 kg
  • Tusk: Most males have tusks though some have no tusks. The female usually has none, and if present at all, it’s barely visible.
  • Breeding: Gestation period is about 18-22 months with one calf per birth or occasionally twins
  • Weaning: 2-3 years
  • Life span: On an average of 60 years in the wild and 80 in captivity
  • More info: @ Wikipedia, including comparisons between the two main elephant species

Last edit: June 4, 2016

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6 Responses to “Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre, Pahang”

  1. Autumn Belle Says:

    What a fun and educational trip it has been. I have read about it but never visited yet. I’m so glad our country has such wildlife sanctuary for the animals. My warmest regards to your family members.

  2. Jacqueline Says:

    Yes, if you’re a nature and wildlife lover. Hope you get to visit it someday, Autumn Belle. And, thanks…our best regards to you and family too.

  3. Eberhard Utz Says:

    Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I’m the Guide of a group of tourists from Germany and Switzerland. We made the trip to Malaysia by road with motorhomes through Russia, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Kambodcha and Thailand to Malaysia. At the moment we are back in Europe an our tour back by car will start in February. We will be back on 4th of February in Melakka and we will be at your park late afternoon on the 5th. We would like to stay there 1 night and seeyour Park in the Evening and on next day. Please may you give me informations about the park and the posibilities for us. What can we see, what can we do?

    My adress is:

    Eberhard Utz
    Eichenweg 18
    88046 Friedrichshafen
    Germany

    Email: eberhard.utz@GMX.de
    You may read more about us on my homepage http://www.elyutz.de

    Many Thanks for informations
    Eberhard Utz

  4. Jacqueline Says:

    Sorry, we’re not a tour agency, Eberhand Utz! We were just first-time visitors to the elephant centre for a few hours and simply shared here our pleasant experiences. Please direct your enquiries to the National Elephant Conseration Centre at Kuala Gandah whose contact numbers are provided above. Alternatively, you may either want to contact ‘The Elephant Man’, whose email address can be found @ http://www.myelephants.org/ecotourism.html or google further for information elsewhere.
    Whatever, all the best to you and wish you and your group an enjoyable forthcoming tour of our beloved country.

  5. Education Strategies Says:

    After reading through many articles the last couple of months and this year coming to an end, I want to wish you a Happy New Year 2011! Thank you for providing such great insight, keep up the good work – Education Strategies

  6. Jacqueline Says:

    Thanks! A blessed, joyous and fulfilling 2011 to you too!

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