Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre | Pahang, Malaysia

About an hour and a half’s drive from Kuala Lumpur, nestled in the sleepy town of Lanchang, rests a quiet sanctuary. The residents of this peaceful respite are the endangered Asian elephant, the only living species of Elephas and the largest living land animals in Asia.

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In 2004 it was reported by the United Nations Environment Programme that there are only about 1,000 wild Asian elephants left on the Malay peninsula. Due to the fast paced development of agriculture, they are losing their habitat and their numbers have steadily declined. The Kuala Gandah elephant sanctuary takes in orphaned and injured elephants to raise and give shelter to.

Perfect for a day-trip, we had heard we could bathe with the elephants, but what we didn’t know was that they bathe in the afternoon (and we had gotten there in the morning). Instead, we walked to where some of the elephants were kept, and bought some bananas (RM5 per bundle) to feed them. Entrance is free, though donations are encouraged.

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We came face-to-face with these beautiful creatures, quite literally. I was a little surprised to find that they don’t seem to like being touched as they avoided our hands but still reached for the bananas.

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The sanctuary gives people the opportunity to get close to these wondrous beings but it was a bit unfortunate to see that their legs were chained, and their pens were smaller than I imagined they should be. Aside from that though, the sanctuary is beautiful, with a river running through it and lots of trees for shade. We brought some packed lunches for ourselves to enjoy under this shade and welcomed the escape from our concrete jungle.

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