Reena and I headed out to visit Malaysia’s National Elephant Conservation Centre, an educational center that also works to move elephants that encroach upon and cause harm to human populations.
The Centre is located near the small town of Lanchang, so we took a bus from Kuala Lumpur to Lanchang and hired a taxi to take us the rest of the way. Even getting a bus was a bit of hassle as the KL taxi drivers insisted that there was no bus and strongly encouraged us to just hire them for the entire way.
Once we arrived in Lanchang, Reena and I had a small breakfast, which included some steamed buns and toast with butter and sugar. Afterwards, we arranged for a taxi and headed to the Centre.
When we arrived, we watched a video about the work the Centre does to move problem elephants in the wild. Due to constant human development, the elephants’ habitat declines each year. They’re forced to forage for food closer and closer to civilization, and sometimes begin to cause financial damage to farmers’ crops. When the elephants are deemed too dangerous to stay, the Centre relocates them to less populated habitats farther in the forest.
After the video, visitors hand-fed the elephants by purchasing bananas. The animals stayed behind a wooden fence, but their long trunks made snagging a treat a breeze. The trainers also showed us how they bathed the elephants in the river and demonstrated some of the skills the elephants learned in a short performance.
These resident elephants aren’t only on hand to entertain tourists. Relocation teams use the elephants to guide wild elephants to safety. Wild elephants are more trusting of the team if the resident elephants are around to calm them down. It makes the entire process run more smoothly and causes less stress on the animals.
Reena and I had an incredible day even if the heat and humidity made us feel a bit sluggish. When we returned to KL, we hit an air-conditioned mall and splurged for a meal at TGI Fridays.