The National Elephant Conservation Centre in Kuala Gandah is a tranquil conservation centre that allows visitors to come into close contact with one of the world’s most majestic creatures. It is situated approximately two hours from Kuala Lumpur city centre. Implemented and managed by the Malaysian Wildlife Society, it is the base of operations of the Department Of Wildlife And National Parks Elephant Relocation Team, which assists in the capture and relocation of rogue elephants from across Southeast Asia. The best way to experience this fun, informative and necessary endeavour is by booking a one day tour from central Kuala Lumpur.
Departing at 09:00, the tour starts with a scenic route within the ever-bustling Kuala Lumpur city centre. Home to massive skyscrapers, Chinese and Hindu temples, museums and colourful street markets, we are also taken to Masjid Negara (Malaysia’s National Mosque) and Istana Negara, which is bordered by a wall with the Malaysian coat of arms, featuring the Royal Insignia of His Majesty, placed on the steel bars between each fenced pillar.
Our first stop out of the city is at the iconic Batu Caves in Gombak. An important place of worship for Hindu devotees in the country, this natural attraction is made up of a series of limestone caves said to be more than 400 million years old. The towering golden statue of Lord Muruga – well-regarded as tallest statue of a Hindu deity in Malaysia - guarding the entrance of the main cave glints ethereally against the cloudy sky. Two cave temples called Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave are also contained in the main complex, as well as a Tamil school, several souvenir shops and vegetarian eateries.
After 20 minutes of photo sessions and browsing through stalls within the vicinity, we begin our hour-long drive to Kuala Gandah, Pahang. Along the way, we are greeted with lush greenery, winding roads, village homes, as well as roadside stalls selling local fruits and delicacies. At 12:00, we stop for lunch before stepping inside the National Elephant Conservation Centre. Situated within walking distance from the sanctuary is an aboriginal village, belonging to the indigenous Che’Wong tribe. Known as the smallest tribe among the few aboriginal tribes that live in the forests of the Krau Forest Reserve, their homes are built on stilts (in case of floods) using durable materials such as bamboo and rattan.
We are then ushered into an air-conditioned audio-visual theatre for a 25-minute video documentary on the National Parks Elephant Relocation Team’s conservation activities and programs. The informative presentation allows us to have a better understanding of the work conducted at the centre, the duty of the team’s trained elephants and the highly hazardous responsibility of the rangers when they are out in the field conducting wild elephant translocations.
Next, we take a five-minute walk to the elephant enclosure where five rehabilitated elephants are kept. Visitors can feed these elephants by purchasing sugar canes, bananas, and peanuts from a stall nearby. Soon after, the elephants are led towards a nearby river where they are groomed and bathed by professional handlers. For an additional charge of RM30, visitors can experience the thrill of bathing with the elephants, all under watchful eyes and careful supervision.
Lastly, the dedicated staff of the National Parks Elephant Relocation Team demonstrate the trained elephants’ various skills which can greatly assist the trainers to rescue, rehabilitate and relocate wild elephants to larger national parks throughout Peninsular Malaysia. At 15:00, the National Elephant Conservation Centre tour ends with a short stop at a roadside stall, where we indulge in fresh local fruits such as papayas, honeydews, and watermelon before heading back to Kuala Lumpur.
The National Elephant Conservation Centre Tour is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur city, get back in touch with nature, as well as discover the important roles that the elephant sanctuary play in ensuring the survival and wellbeing of these majestic creatures.
National Elephant Conservation Centre