Malaysia: World-class conservation centre rising in Lanchang

T. N. ALAGESH New Straits Times 17 Sep 14;

TEMERLOH: FANCY feeding and splashing with elephants, staring into the eyes of the magnificent Malayan tigers in their natural habitat or getting up-close with the shy deers?

This experience will soon be a reality as the Pahang government has pledged its commitment in transforming the small and quiet town of Lanchang, near here, into a worldclass conservation centre.

The existing Kuala Gandah National Elephant Conservation Centre and Deerland Park, along with the soon-to-be completed Tiger Valley Project at the Krau Forest Reserve, will be instrumental in turning the area into a premier eco-tourism corridor.

State Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin said the three main centres (Kuala Gandah, Deerland and Tiger Valley) held the key to the government’s aspirations to have its own comprehensive conservation centre.

He said the elephant conservation centre, which carried out translocation programmes, was the only one of its kind in Malaysia and had been involved in relocating some 700 wild pachyderms throughout the country.

“Besides learning more about the process to locate, subdue and trans-locate the wild mammals, visitors to the centre can also feed, bath and take pictures with the elephants. Our objective is to promote public awareness of the elephants’ plight and educate the people on the importance of environmental preservation.

“Since 1999, the government had allocated RM35 million to develop the elephant conservation centre, and it has undergone a major refurbishment, with several new attractions, including an elephant procession, to woo more visitors.”

Sharkar said the privately-owned Deerland Park in Bukit Rengit, here, housed different types of deers, including those from Indonesia, local protected Sambar and mouse-deers, and various species of birds, including the Golden Pheasant.

He said the Tiger Valley, to be developed under the 11th Malaysia Plan in a 80ha area, would house rescued tigers from the wild.

“It will adopt an open zoo concept, which allows nature lovers to watch the tigers roaming in their natural habitat from a viewing tower and specially-built walkways. Works to complete the 6m-high perimeter fencing are being carried out,” Sharkar said, adding that the aim of the centre, scheduled to be fully completed in 2020, was to protect the tigers from extinction.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, during his visit to Lanchang last month, said the ministry would work with experts in related fields, including those from the United States and India, to meet the international standards set by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for wildlife conservation.