Horton, Dumbo, Tantor and Manny, four of probably the most popular fictional characters that many can think of when the word “elephant” comes to play. And seeing them up close and feeding them are just a few of the things you can get from a trip to Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary (National Elephant Conservation Centre) in Lanchang, Pahang, Malaysia.
The trip to the National Elephant Conservation Centre is about 160 km or roughly 2 to 2/12 hours from Kuala Lumpur by land. If I add my flight from Manila to Kuala Lumpur via AirAsia, which is about 3 hours and 45 minutes, that’s about of 6 hours.
But believe me, it as sure worth it!
The National Elephant Conservation Centre serves as a sanctuary to many elephants from different places in Malaysia. There is an estimated 1,200 Asian elephants left now in Peninsular Malaysia and about 40,000 in the whole Asian region.
This Elephant Sanctuary in Kuala Gandah is also transition home, after the elephants are rescued before they are set out in the wild again, safely.
ASIAN ELEPHANTS’ PLIGHT
Though the close interaction with the elephants, particularly the feeding part, is the most anticipated moment in the visit to Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, learning more about the grey giants is one of my most valued take of the whole trip.
Watching the video featuring the efforts of the Elephant Translocation Team made understand more of the actual plight of the mighty mammals.
Honestly, I thought it would be just a boring documentary, but taking part of the 20 to 30 minute video presentation is an eye opener that the elephants, might be cute and attractive to watch, but hidden about our fascination of the giant mammals, it can’t be denied that their population is at risk.
Learning more about the facts of the condition of the elephants is a good way to start the whole visit to the Centre.
Video Show (source: Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment)
Visitors are encouraged to appreciate video show which portrays the translocation of wild elephant from conflict area to their new habitat:
Monday – Thursday
First show : 1.00 pm
Second show : 1.30 pm
Third show : 2.00 pm ( Friday only)
Saturday, Sunday and Public holidays
First show : 12.30 pm
Second show : 1.00 pm
Third show : 1.30 pm
After learning about the elephants, now comes the fun part, feeding them, up close.
Kids and adults alike can surely appreciate this kind of activity. As many of us would just wonder how these giant creatures really eat. I, for one, was fascinated of how they use their trunk to get anything.
And finally got to experience who their trunks quickly zip an object. Makes me amazed even more of how uniquely God created these giants.
The feeding area lets visitors get a first hand experience in interacting with the elephants from a safe distance. There are bundles of sugar canes (RM 3) and peanuts (RM 4) sold on the side for visitors to take advantage of the moment.
TRIVIA: An adult elephant can consume 300 pounds (136 kilograms) of food in a single day. (Source: National Georgraphic).
I am pretty sure you can feed them as much as you can. You might even be tired first, before you can actually feed them what they need in a day. Hahaha!
After feeding the elephants, there is a presentation that you can watch a number of elephants showing-off their talents.
Though this may be entertaining for many tourists, the Kuala Gandah Sanctuary highlights during the show each elephant, not for its skills alone, but also, how individually is rescued.
Some were victims of poaching, displacement and even rescued from near death.
It is ironic that their hugeness is to their disadvantage, as they become easy targets for poachers hunting them for their tusks (ivory). Then, factor in the denudation of forests, the elephants are displaced from their natural habitats and forced to take risks in other places which they are both a danger and danger to them.
After the show, the fun part again, feeding the elephants with chopped watermelons that all the tourists can get.
After the show and feeding, you can see how elephants take a bath at the river in the sanctuary. Though there may be other sites showing that visitors can give elephants a bath, I was never able to ask if that was possible during our visit.
Seeing them from a far is a delight already. There’s a big difference of just watching them on edited documentaries or movies.
It was cute seeing them use their trunks splash water into their bodies. Plus, they look like pet dogs rolling over the water. Hahaha. Felt like cuddling them at the time. 😉
TIPS WHEN GOING TO KUALA GANDAH
- Be sure to bring water, cap, extra shirt
- Don’t forget your smartphone, camera. You wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to capture the moment you feeding the elephants.
- There may be old photos wherein visitors rode some of the elephants here, but now, riding on elephants is not allowed anymore.
- Tag along a loved one or friend to enjoy the experience
- Expect walking a few minutes to get to each section (museum to feeding area to river)
- There’s a cafe called Jumbo Cafe for quick rehydration and munch
Going inside the National Elephant Conservation Centre is FREE. So there is no reason for you not to see the largest land mammals when in Pahang.
Though, donations are highly appreciated as maintaining a sanctuary is for sure not easy.
Getting To Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary
By Road (source: Malaysia Travel)
From Kuala Lumpur, take the Karak Highway heading towards Lanchang District, passing the Karak Village along the way. Once in Lancang, you should be able to see a BP gas station by the side of the road. Turn left into the road before the gas station, then follow the ample road signs along the way and head towards Bolok. You will pass an Orang Asli settlement and at the end of that road, you will reach the Kuala Gandah Elephant Orphanage Sanctuary.
Pahang is accessible via Kuala Lumpur. There are flights going to Kuala Lumpur from the Philippines. AirAsia currently has two (2) flights daily to Kuala Lumpur from Manila.
But starting Ocober 29, AirAsia will have Manila-Kuala Lumpur flights 3x daily while 4x weekly Cebu -Kuala Lumpur flights 4x starting Oct 30, 2016.
So any trips going to Kuala Lumpur, Pahang or any other Malaysian destination from the Philippines can be connected via Manila-Kuala Lumpur or Cebu-Kuala Lumpur trips.
To take the most out of the trip, best that you be there early and follow the timetable below.
Recommended Visitor Timetable (source: Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment)
10.30 am – 12.00 pm
Elephant observation along the interpretive trail.
Visitor will be able to observe the young elephant roaming freely within the secured electric fencing area.
1.00 pm & 1.30 pm
A documentary shows translocation of wild elephants to their new habitat
Bathing and cleaning of elephants by mahout
The visitors will watch the elephant bath given by mahout with explanations by NECC staff.
2.45 pm – 3.15 pm
Elephant conservation talks at interpretive stage.
Visitors will be introduced to each of the elephants which include their background and ability.
Note: Please be informed that there is no elephant rides provided in this centre.
Visiting the National Elephant Conservation Centre in Pahang is a unique experience. One that you will surely remember for ages. It is a great bonding moment with your loved one, family and friends.
Good thing that I was with a unique, wacky bunch, that’s why I enjoyed the trip so much. I was with my fiancee, Cristelle of GirlandBoyThing.com and new found friends, Kate of AirAsia Philippines, Jolo, a videographer, Sitti and Eli our tour guides in Malaysia.
Be sure not to miss this opportunity to see these wonderful creatures.
Thanks to AirAsia Philippines and Tourism Malaysia for making this as part of the itinerary of the Visit Pahang trip.
As for the last stop, you can stick your visitor pass at the elephant figure before going out.