Rainforest Rumble (2) - Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary

November 12, 2014

On our way back from Taman Negara, Henry and I dropped in on the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary in Lanchang village to see the pachyderms.
The National Elephant Conservation Centre, to use their official name, take in orphaned baby Asian elephants and they rehome Asian elephants displaced by agricultural development by taking them out of the small towns they've been found wandering about and instead rehabilitate them with the aid of their resident trained elephants before rehoming them in bigger national parks. The elephants have a chain on one ankle, not because they're bound but rather like an elephant version of a dog's collar, not a leash. With an animal that big and powerful, it's safer for everyone involved including the elephants themselves to be able to be controlled, and the ankle chain is also there for when they need to move the elephants to be relocated.

 Wonderful Malaysia describes the relocating process: 
"Only elephants that are seriously injured and elephants with zero to none chances to survive in the wild on their own are brought back to the sanctuary by the Elephant Capture & Translocation Unit (ECTU). Other wild elephants are relocated directly to their new living environment, far away from the plantations. Capturing a wild elephant is no easy feat. Here the two older elephants, Chek Mek and Mek Bunga, come into play to lead the wild elephant to the special truck that is able to support the wild elephant. The two elephants position themselves on either side of the captured elephant while the team attaches chains around its shoulders. Sometimes relocating a wild elephant takes many days."
Three years ago visitors would come to ride the elephants, which as of 2012 has been cancelled so as not to stress these gentle giants. These days, visitors can feed the elephants banana, sugar cane, and papaya, and watch while their handlers bathe them in the river. Managed by the Malaysian Department of Wildlife and National Parks, this sanctuary is open to the public and free, of course you are welcome to donate whatever you please. 
"The relocation of a single wild elephant usually costs over RM20.000. Though the Kuala Gandah elephant sanctuary does receive funding from the Malaysian government via the Department of Wildlife and National Parks it strongly relies on donations from its daily visitors. Besides money you can also donate necessary items as there is always use for it: Brown palm sugar (Gula Merah), bags of rice (10kgs), Anlene gold milk 51, Dumex duga 1-3 y/o, Nestiva omega plus and glucose."
Again, no photos of myself because I looked like a mess thanks to the mud and rain. But you'd much rather see photos of elephants anyway, and of Henry communicating with them using sign language. Here he raises his hand in a way to tell the elephants to lift their heads and open their mouths so he can throw food to them---

The very moment a sugar cane makes it way into an elephant's mouth.

Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, in Lanchang village, is about a two hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. There is no public transport there but there are organised tours from Kuala Lumpur. It's about two hours from Taman Negara and well worth a stop over en route to the National Park. x


  1. This looked like so much fun! And to think, I've not even been there – living in KL all this time!

  2. Gorgeous photos. I just found your blog via The Awkward Blog - lunchtime reading sorted!

    I have family in KL but I've not explored much of Malaysia, so will have to make a trip next time I'm visiting!

    1. Hello hello! Welcome to the party!
      When are you next going to Malaysia? I'll be there for CNY. Blogger meet up? xx