Near the city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia is the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre (KGECC). On a land-trip away from the boat in November 2002, we had a wonderful day at the center, as Alan mingled with the elephants in company with the KGECC team and some highly entertained local children. On the video clip, the baby elephant music is from “Salamander” by Stone Whistle, fellow voyagers. Traditional Malaysian music opens the clip and accompanies footage of the adult elephants.
Asian elephants still roam wild on the Malaysian Peninsula. Unfortunately, farmers regard them as destructive pests. If a herd damages crops, the farmer is likely to attempt either trapping or destroying them one by one. The KGECC attempts to relocate wild elephants to large national parks, where they can continue their natural existence without threat and without damaging crops. To help relocation, the team at KGECC has trained a few previously relocated Thai elephants to assist. The trained animals are taken to the site where a wild elephant or wild herd is to be re-captured for transport to their new home. The mere presence of elephants comfortable with humans and truck-loading procedure appears to make temporary captivity less stressful for the wild ones.
As many worthy causes are, the KGECC is underfunded. To promote their cause and to raise funds for elephant care, the main facility opens to tourism on most days. In a national park setting, visitors can learn about the program, mingle and play with the trained elephants, and swim with them in the nearby river. Particularly rewarding is interaction with Mawar, an abandoned baby elephant that the team is raising. Find out more about the program by contacting the KGECC at +011-912-059 or the Malaysia Tourist Centre at +03-2164-3929.