Kuala Gandah National Elephant Conservation Centre

Visiting Kuala Gandah National Elephant Conservation Centre at Lanchang, Pahang last month was a great opportunity for my family and I to learn more about elephants as well as to meet and greet them up-close and personal. Reaching the place around 12.30pm, I went in the reception area with my son to find out more information about the place while my husband takes a quick nap.

National Elephant Conservation Centre is a base for Elephant Relocation Team dedicated to locating, subduing and then trans-locating problem elephants from areas where their habitats are constantly being encroached by plantations, to other suitable habitats throughout Peninsular, including Taman Negara National Park.

We found out that admission is free and in order to get in the sanctuary, we need to register; full name, IC, address and phone number. Later we were given sticker passes to stick on our shirts.  By having done all that, we’re free to visit the sanctuary already but activities with elephants only starts at 2pm, so we use the extra time to visit the exhibition near the reception area to learn more about elephants.

 

At around 1pm, we went into the area where the elephants are. Although activities have not started yet, visitors can go in and see and feed the elephants.


Here is Yassin feeding an elephant with sugarcane.

Some of the elephants here were found injured in the jungle of Malaysia while some were brought in from Thailand and Myanmar under the trans-location program to ensure their well-being and continued survival.

The Peninsular Malaysian elephants (Asian elephants) are listed as critically endangered species as there are only 1,200 wild elephants existed in Peninsular Malaysia. Protecting these elephants help safeguard thousands of other species within its habitat. The elephant creates vital natural pathways by knocking over trees, allowing smaller species to feed, as well as dispersing plant seeds in its dung. However, due to habitat loss, elephants are forced to hunt for food in convert areas surrounding forest such as plantations, where they raid crops on a massive scale. This is why the trans-location team has such a dire responsibility to move these elephants, to prevent them from otherwise being shot by farmers, or simply dying of starvation.

The activities kicked off at 2pm with an introduction of 6 elephants.  These elephants are highly intelligent and delightful – each one has a different character, personality and temperament. All of them showed off a bit of their talents.


An elephant saying thank you.

Later, we got to interact with elephants by touching and feeding them. Yassin was so happy to be able to do that.


Touchy moment.

After the feeding session, all visitors were allowed to ride naturally on the elephants; without seating basket and all. The queue was quite long…we waited almost an hour.


Long queue.

Yassin with Ali and Uncle Helmy. Whaddaya know; of all the places, we bumped into them here at the sanctuary. Ali loves elephant.

Last activity of the day was bathing with elephants! Everybody; young ones and old alike, were very much excited. Yassin and Ali was having a blast washing the elephant. I did not join the the fun as I like being dry and just take photos. My husband joined in to take closer pictures in the river.

The bathing activity ended around 5pm and just before we could get to our car, rain fell down. So, my clothing was wet in other way. Ah well, hujan rahmat. Been quite a while since I last got soaked in a rain.

Here’s a video to sum it all up:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tourism Pahang Blogger

I was invited on Saturday (28th July) to join a Tourism Pahang Blogger colloquium organised by Tourism Pahang, in Kuantan, Pahang. The event kicked-off at 3pm with a speech by Dato’ Shafik Fauzan bin Shariff, the Pahang State Minister for Tourism Malaysia. Pahang Tourism is handled by Fraser’s Hill Development Corporation (Perbadanan Kemajuan Bukit Fraser – PKBF).

Other blogger friends that were also invited include Yafielda, Jard, Rayyan and Lilyriani. All of them are also the Malaysian Travel Bloggers members.


Dato’ Shafik Fauzan

In his welcoming speech, Dato’ Shafik explains about Pahang’s plan to boost its tourism sector with the help of bloggers. He added that traditionally, the tourism body has mainstream media to spread tourism information and activities but however, as part of the efforts to boost tourism industry this year, they decided to invite the new social media — bloggers. Stating about the state’s ‘naivety’ about social media, Dato’ Shafik said that he is open to any suggestions by bloggers to help improve tourism in the state. He explains that bloggers are very powerful when it comes to dissemination of  information as they often come equipped with social sharing tools such as twitter, facebook, etc and that they exert strong influence, reaching millions of people.

During the colloquium (informal meeting), bloggers were presented with information about Tourism Pahang website by the CEO of Secretlab.Media, Mohd Khairul Azizi Mohd Razali. Azizi emphasised the importance of social media and he revealed the fact that previously, the global ranking for the Tourism Pahang is 13M. When his company was given the task to revamp the website, he integrated social media buttons such as twitter, facebook, foursquare, G+1 and many more for easy sharing. Now, Tourism Pahang website’s rank has improved to 3M and as such, it is hoped that it will improve when bloggers shared their articles on the website. This feature is still under testing and will be released soon.

There were also talks about blogging basics by two Pahang-based bloggers, Azwan and Fatin Suhana.

Tourism Pahang is considering to organise many interesting activities (as per suggestion by bloggers during the meeting) including familiarisation tour for bloggers, contests, blogger’s award and many more. Apart from that, Tourism Pahang which has yet to launch its newly revamped website, is very much excited to invite bloggers to join the launch soon.

Pahang, situated on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, is blessed with a variety of natural and cultural attractions. It is a home to Malaysia’s national Park as well as three major highlands, namely Genting Highland, Cameron Highland and Fraser’s Hill. Apart from the highlands, Pahang boasts some 210 kilometers of shoreline that includes the famous Cherating beach. For marine life fans, there is Tioman. The island park is teeming with an assortment of exotic marine life that turn the colorful coral reefs as their homes.

I am planning to explore more of Pahang soon. Being a Pahang-born blogger, I feel that I need to explore my birth state. My recent trips to Fraser’s Hill and Deerland Park (Gandah Elephant post still in draft) were some of the starters.

 

 

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Exotic animals at Deerland Park, Lanchang, Pahang

Visiting Deerland Park in Lanchang, Pahang not only gives the opportunity to meet deers, but to also to meet a collection of pheasants like Golden Pheasant, Vulturine Guineafowl, common pheasants, other type of birds like quails, cockatiel, Mandarin duck as well as the four-legged ones; ferret, Bengal cat, Guinea pigs, rabbits not to mention the hissing ones; couple of pythons.

I found that these two pheasants have very interesting plumage so I took them as subjects for my pen drawing.

Golden Pheasant caught my attention as it has a very beautiful intense shimmering plumage. The crest is in golden yellow and rump and bright red body. The deep orange “cape” or tippets can be spread in display, appearing as an alternating black and orange fan that covers all of the face except its bright yellow eye, with a pinpoint black pupil. According to the keeper, this pheasant is not that friendly despite it’s beautiful plumage. When it saw me aiming my camera, it came darting across the lawn and walk non-stop and made it hard for me to take the picture. Unlike Golden Pheasant, Vulturine Guineafowl has primarily bright blue body with interesting black and white streaks and  dots on the back feathers. There is a band of tiny brown feathers on the back of its head and the eyes are fiercely red.

My son was in awe with the cute quails and the keeper told me that these were the meat-type not the egg-laying type. He also added that meat-type quails are bigger than egg-laying ones.

After walking around the corner of this quail area, I saw a couple of creepy crawlies! I dared not go near but my son and his dad went near and touched them! Yikes. I ran—like quail—away from the pythons and later got to meet a cockatiel.


Photo captured by my husband.

 I looove this cockatiel! It has orange blush spot, so cute. I must draw this cute bird in color when time permits.

Cockatiel is an exotic bird, popular for its attractive yellow crest, bright orange patch in its cheeks and its long sleek tail. Cockatiel is usually gray colored, however, some domesticated cockatiel breeds are found in colors of yellow, peach, gray, orange and white.

And later we got to see Bengal cat sleeping. I called tsktskstsk (the sound when one calling out to cat) but it ignored, must be in deep slumber. The Bengal is actually a nocturnal loner and very shy—that explains why it was in deep slumber. The Bengal is a hybrid breed of cat, formed by the cross of a domestic feline and an Asian leopard cat (ALC). The Bengal cat has large spots, rosettes, and a light/white belly, and a body structure reminiscent of the ALC.

Next, we got to feed rabbits!

Later we got to see pretty Mandarin ducks. I love the plumage, so beautiful. This will be my next pen drawing subject too.

You see the pretty one in the middle? It’s the male one; the female ones are those two having not so attractive plumage. The male duck has a red bill, large white crescent above the eye and reddish face and “whiskers”. The breast is purple with vertical white bars, and the flanks ruddy, with two orange “sails” at the back. The female is similar to female Wood Duck, with a white eye-ring and stripe running back from the eye, but is paler below, has a small white flank stripe, and a pale tip to its bill.

And the mandarin duck ends our trip around Deerland Park. We really had great time here getting to know more animals. We waved goodbye to the animals and dropped some donation to support them before we leave.

 

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A visit to Deerland Park, Lanchang, Pahang

Frankly, I did not know a deer farm known as Deerland Park existed in Lanchang, Pahang. I discovered the place by chance.

My family and I, with a plan to visit Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, reached Lanchang at about 10am, Sunday, from Temerloh. We stopped by a restaurant somewhere in Kampung Chempaka Kanan to take our late breakfast and later bought some bottled water from grocery shop next door. The taukeh asked me whether I was going to visit the elephants. I said yes and he told me that the activities only start at 2pm. Since it was only 11am, he told me to visit Deerland Park and that the signs would lead me there. I thanked him for the information and told my husband about it. So, we followed the sign and found the place. When we parked, I saw a van full of tourists visiting the same place. I was a bit ashamed of myself; well, who wouldn’t? They came with a plan to visit the place while I, a Malaysian living in Malaysia, just discovered the place by chance. But I guess that is a good sign that tourists are given good information of where to go and what to visit.

We paid RM16 in total; RM12 for 2 adults, RM4 for a kid. We were given entry stickers (to stick on shirt) and a coupon for deer food. My son was really excited to feed the deers. At the enclosure, we exchanged the coupon and get two small baskets of deer food and fed the Javan Rusa deers. It was fun but deers can be quite aggressive sometimes. My purple shirt got chewed by a deer, probably mistaken me for purple sweet potato.


My son feeding Javan Rusa deer. 


Javan Rusa deers are principly found in deciduous forests, plantations and grasslands in the islands of Southeast Asia. Javan Rusa lives between 15 to 20 years and rarely do they live for more than 20 years.


The deer enclosure here at Deerland park is quite big to allow deers to move about freely. The front area of the enclosure is for visitors to feed deers while surrounding area is very much a forest.

Other than Javan Rusa deers, we got to see Sika deers and a mouse deer.


Sika deers are native to much of East Asia and introduced to various other parts of the world. Spot patterns vary with region. 


Greater mouse-deers are found in Sumatra, Borneo and smaller Malaysian and Indonesian islands, and in southern Myanmar, southern Thailand and peninsular Malaysia. They live near water, in tropical forests and mangrove thickets. They are terrestrial, but spend a lot of time in wet, swampy areas.

Deerland Park is a great place to visit. A trip to this petting park is an opportunity for animal lovers to get up-close and personal with deers as well as a variety of animals such as Golden Pheasant, Bengal Cat, Rabbits, Parakeets, Phytons and few others. I’ll cover this on another post.

Deerland Park opens daily (except Friday) from 10.30 am to 5.30pm. To get here from Kuala Lumpur, take the Karak Highway to Lanchang, passing Karak along the way. Once in Lanchang, turn left into the road just before the BP gas station, then follow the road signs that show the way to Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary. You will reach a junction where you can see a Deerland( 2km) road sign on your right.

http://www.deerland.org
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Rusa_timorensis.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_mouse-deer
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sika_deer

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Fraser’s Hill flowers and plants

Fraser’s Hill is a combination of sub-montane and montane forest and with its temperature between 16°C – 24°C, the hill makes a good place for some temperate flowers to grow. As a person who loves flower, this is very exciting. I am not sure of the nativity but I reckon some of the species were brought here when the British developed the hill station. Else, they just grow.

Here are some of the flower that I got to see:

Angel’s Trumpet — Also known as Brugmansia, this plant is  a large shrub or small tree, with semi-woody, often many-branched trunks. It has pendulous, trumpet-shaped flowers, that have no spines on their fruit. It has a very pleasing fragrance.


Daylily — I was having hard time looking for the correct species because there are hundreds of them! I think this one is the Hemerocallis Hyperion species because it has blade-like foliage. A border favorite for decades. Sweetly scented and yellow flowering, also both heat and drought resistant and long lived plants.

Everlasting Daisy — This species is a large tribe of Aster, a sub-species of Daisy. Also known as Golden Everlasting, its distinctive feature is the papery bracts that resemble petals. An Everlasting Daisy consists of a central disc which contains a number of tiny individual flowers, known as florets; that sit directly on an enlarged part of the stem known as the receptacle. Around the disc is an involucre of modified leaves, stiff and papery petal-like bracts. Arranged in rows, these bracts curl over and enclose the florets, shielding them before flowering.

 

Violet Queen Spider flower — Also known as Cleome hassleriana, this plant is made up of groups of 5-7 leaflets, cylindrical seed-pods and long stamens that resemble the legs of a spider––the inspiration for its common name.  It has bright green hand-shaped foliage.

 

Azalea — It is an ornamental plant but also grows in forest. Commonly grown as border or fence. These flowers are known for releasing a sweet scent, and having bright, cheerful colours. The white azaleas are frequently used by gardeners as a backdrop for other brilliantly hued blossoms; however, these flowers come in a variety of shades from orange and yellow, to pink and red.

Flaming Trumpet Vine — A vigorous and rambunctious climber with tendrils, this vine produces abundant clusters of flaming-orange coloured trumpet-shaped flowers. The vine is draped over a large pergola, fence or espaliered on a trellis or building structures. I found this vine near the Pine Tree Trail area.

I actually have more photos of flowers but I could not find the name of the species. Nevertheless,  I was excited to see this one plant:

Poinsettia tree!!! I normally see potted Poinsettia during Christmas time and did not know that it actually can grow so big! This Noche Buena is native to Mexico and Central America and who would’ve thought that it is found here at Fraser’s Hill.  The colored bracts—which are most often flaming red—are actually leaves. Because the flowers are unassuming and do not attract pollinators, brightly coloured leaves developed (aka bracts).

When I look closely, the leaves were infested with white pests. I think local authority should take care of this plant and try to breed as many trees as possible.

Anyway, an effort by Tourism Ministry will see that a new RM4.2mil floral park will be build here to add to the existing attractions. In addition to a glass house, the park would be planted with many plants including as impatiens, spider flower and enthurium. Here are some pictures of flowers already planted for this project.

 

References:
http://www.bluestoneperennials.com/HEHY.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerochrysum_bracteatum
http://www.robsplants.com/plants/CleomHassl
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azalea
http://shoaibnzm2.blogspot.com/2011/12/azalea-flowers.html
http://www.jaycjayc.com/pyrostegia-venusta-flamevine/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphorbia_pulcherrima
http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/6/23/nation/20120623165624&sec=nation

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Moleskine: Fraser’s Hill sketch

I bought a new moleskine with a plan to practice my pens sketches. Previously have black one, thought I get a red one this time. My first sketch is a sketch of Fraser Hill; the roundabout with a clock tower and post office. It took me quite sometimes to finish the details. I filled in the blue color digitally to break the monotonous. Everything else was traditional: pen and sketchbook.


As seen on my Instagram page.


Pen on Moleskine. 

What do you think? Like it? Hate it? Leave me your thoughts.

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