Kuala Gandah, Pahang: Awareness and Affection for Elephants
January 1, 1970
by Joan Raylle
For so long, Malaysia has been known as a country wealthy by its nature. I couldn’t agree more. I have lived my entire life in Malaysia, and from the Peninsular Malaysia to the East Borneo Malaysia, the bountiful green plants and the various animal species has always been my favorite.
However, just because Malaysia maintains the surrounding nature, it doesn’t mean that we are an underdeveloped country. The misconception of this country’s image has led to thinking that undeveloped equals to uncivilized; which is 100% untrue, by the way.
It’s not that we are undeveloped, but rather our development instead of just building skyscrapers and glass buildings, we also focus on preserving and conserving our flora and fauna.
In Peninsular Malaysia, despite tall buildings and tarred road, we are still enveloped with bountiful of green scenery that always serves as the to. And one of my favorite place to visit is definitely the state that carries the backbone of Peninsular Malaysia; Pahang.
National Elephant Conservation Centre, Kuala Gandah, Pahang.
Frankly speaking, the first time I went here was for a community project. Back then, I had doubts about visiting animal sanctuary that allows public visitors, because places like this are more commonly linked with animal abuse and mistreatment of the animal for the sake of entertainment.
However, Kuala Gandah is not that kind of place. It is the exact opposite of torment for animals. As the name states, Kuala Gandah is the center for the Relocation Team and serve to locate, subduing, and translocating either injured elephants, abandoned baby elephant, even wild problematic elephants.
Here, the elephants are given the to be respected, to be taken care of, to be cleaned, and to be nurtured as it should.
First before you are allowed to partake in the various activities with these cute animals, you need to register at the entrance. For those coming in groups of more than 10 people, you are recommended to make a reservation beforehand to avoid waiting in line for too long.
After the registration, each visitors will be given a sticker as an entry pass.
In lieu of a tour guide, it is a self-guided place where visitors are free to reign the park and to join in on the scheduled activities or just enjoy the sight of nature and the adorable sight of baby elephants crossing the road.
Although there is no tour guide, visitors can hire volunteer to guide them through the scheduled activities.
It is recommended for first-timer to come around 10:30 a.m. in order to experience the full activities prepared.
However, it is not compulsory to hire one, so you can leisurely discover the beauty of the sanctuary with the comfort of your own time and without pressure.
Roam the park with elephants.
Visitors can observe the group of baby elephants that will be set free to roam the park within the sanctuary. Although it is not advised to approach the elephants without the presence of the sanctuary’s worker or volunteer, visitors are most welcome to take pictures of the elephants.
Within this time, visitors can also take the chance of experiencing feeding elephants from their own hands. But you can only feed them with food sold from the vendors in the sanctuary, to ensure the well being of the elephants.
Brief Elephant Documnetry
During this time, there will be a special video premiere on the documentation of the process of saving wild elephants from conflicted area to a new habitat enforced by the Department of Wildlife and National Park of Malaysia.
Visitors will be exposed to the various threats faced by elephants due to development and globalization. It will also showcase the methods on how the elephants will be translocated and cared during their stay in the sanctuary.
Into the rivers we go
Encompassed by the beauty of nature, visitors will have a chance to watch and also participate in one of the most exciting activities;
Yes. Elephant bath time. A normal daily occurrence by the workers in this center which include baby elephants, river, and water. If the weather is great, visitors will be able to partake in this activities in the river (it is advised to bring extra clothing to change afterward) with baby elephants.
Most people assume that elephants are hostile and violent creature due to their huge built, and their ability to crush the things they step on. But contrary to popular belief, elephants are very sensitive and loving creature. Despite their giant body, they also have a giant heart, and not just in the literal meaning.
Elephants are very sensitive to sound and thus, love the peaceful atmosphere of the jungle. But what drove the elephants to be violent, is when they feel threatened and afraid. Nowadays their main threat will be humankind. Although they are treated very well and kind, they will always feel insecure around human, because we were the cause that they lost their natural habitat.
That’s why, in this session, it’s the most anxious and yet anticipated part of the day’s journey. This is because, visitors will be introduced to the elephants that are involved in the conservation activities and history, and showcasing the elephants’ abilities.
However, visitors and elephants will be separated by a divider at an approximation of 8 meters length for both party’s safety. This activity is for the sole purpose of exposing the elephants to human interaction, so they will get used to human touch, in order for the elephants to help the workers to trans-locate more wild elephants in the future.
Although the elephants are showcasing their talents, they are well treated by the friendly mahout instead of being forced to perform for entertainment. That is also why this conservation center does not provide any elephant-riding activities or any performance using the elephants that might ruin the bond of trust between human and animals.
The end is near
As sad as it sounds, the day will come to an end, but visitors will have an unforgettable memory to bring home and share with friends and family. Enraptured by the scenery of green, and the cold touch of mother nature in every nook and cranny, visitors will have a priceless experience learning about the large four-legged beauty that has gone through a lot due to humanity’s own ignorance in development.
I do not write to put words into your mouth, but I can assure you, once you’ve visited this sanctuary, you’ll leave with more knowledge, affection, and awareness for elephants and their habitat and lives.