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Borneo Pygmy Elephants

Borneo Pygmy Elephants

Due to their small size, gentle nature and relatively large ears, they have been dubbed 'pygmy' elephants. Less than 1,500 Borneo Pygmy elephants are found, mostly in the Malaysian state of Sabah. This makes Sabah home to the world's smallest known sub-species of elephants. Smaller than other Asian elephants, the Borneo Pygmy has a longer tail that reaches almost to the ground and straighter tusks. The biggest population of this elephant species is found along the banks of the Kinabatangan River.

Kuala Terengganu

Kuala Terengganu

Kuala Terengganu is the capital of the northern state of Terengganu. The city serves as main gateway to visitors that are on their way to visit the tropical islands of Redang, Lang Tengah, Tenggol and Kapas, but also the fantastic nature at Lake Kenyir. There are daily flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terengganu, but you can also opt to take the bus or drive yourself by rental car. The city is internationally know because of the yearly Monsoon Cup; a very popular sailing event.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

TAR Marine Park is the perfect place to enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling and light jungle treks. The marine park is made up of five small islands: Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Sulug and Mamutik. The best beaches and probably also the best corals can be found around Gaya island; the biggest of the five islands. The marine park is only a 20 minute boat trip away from the city of Kota Kinabalu.

Mount Kinabalu Summit Trail

A 4095 meter tall mountain

Mount Kinabalu is the tallest mountain in Malaysia and the 20th tallest in the World. Mainly because of the biological diversity the mountain is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Climbing the mountain is not an easy feat for the untrained; though it will absolutely be one of the best experiences ever. Watching the sun rise in the early morning will definitely make you forget all the hardships you had to endure during the hike up.

Kinabatangan river cruise

Kinabatangan river cruise

One of the most popular destinations in Sabah is the Kinabatangan River. This river has a length of 560 kilometers and stretches through half of Eastern Sabah. Alongside the riverbanks there is an abundance of wildlife. During a river cruise you will have a chance to spot the rare orangutan, the pygmy elephant, proboscis monkeys and saltwater crocodiles. During night cruises you might spot the leopard cat, numerous sleeping birds, wild boards, snakes and many crocodiles.

Sungai Ketiar Elephant Sanctuary

Map Sungai Ketiar Elephant Sanctuary

Sungai Ketiar is the second Elephant Sanctuary in Malaysia besides the popular Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary. The Sungai Ketiar project was started back in 2007 and in the beginning not many tourists visited the sanctuary compared to Kuala Gandah. Rangers there however are doing a proper job, and nowadays it is becoming more and more popular. Due to its location it will probably never become as popular as Kuala Gandah (as this sanctuary is easier to reach from Kuala Lumpur). Sungai Ketiar is located nearby Lake Kenyir, a beautiful lake area in the state of Terengganu. If you are visiting Lake Kenyir, then a visit to Sungai Ketiar is definitely worth the trip. Most visitors stay at the northeastern part of the lake, the sanctuary is located to the west/northwest. If you're staying at Lake Kenyir Resort , then it is roughly an hour drive to Sungai Ketiar.

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Capturing and relocating wild elephants

Sungai Ketiar Elephant Sanctuary 1

The park is actually quite small. Directly after arriving you will see three elephants that are the permanent residents at the sanctuary. When we visited the sanctuary we also spotted a juvenile sun bear; though we were sad to see it locked up like that but at the sanctuary not all animals can easily be released back into the wild. At first we were not really enthusiastic to visit the sanctuary; as we heard stories up front about caged and chained animals living in tight quarters. Fortunately those stories were untrue for most parts. When the elephants are not working or playing, they are indeed chained which is bit of a sad sight. Then tourists flock around the animals, feeding them carrots and sugarcane sticks. If you arrive around 4pm then you may sometimes get a chance to ride at the back of one of the elephants. Early in the morning is the best time to visit if you want to help out with some chores for a few hours. The two eldest elephants, Suria and Chahil are specially trained to help and relocate captured wild elephants in the area. The people that work at Sungai Ketiar are doing a wonderful job. Whenever they hear of poachers in the area; they track them down and bring them to the authorities. Local residents can call them whenever an elephant is sighted within a habited area; so that they can relocate the elephant.

Sungai Ketiar Elephant Sanctuary 2  

Other elephant sanctuaries in Malaysia

There is also another elephant sanctuary in Malaysia. This is the very popular Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary.


How to get to Sungai Ketiar

People traveling from Penang or Cameron Highlands by rental car will see the signs to Sungai Ketiar along the road between Gua Musang and Kuala Berang (and Kuala Terengganu). It is located roughly 75km from Gua Musang and roughly 50km from Kuala Terengganu. If you're staying around Lake Kenyir it is possible to arrange transport to the sanctuary. The sanctuary is opened daily from 9am to 6pm. There is no entrance fee, though the people over there can sure use your donations. The sanctuary has no official website, but they do have a Facebook page .


Map of Sungai Ketiar

Below you can see a map of the Sungai Ketiar. You can simply scroll through the map with your mouse. Use the markers on the left to zoom in or out of the map. Though the map doesn't yet show it; there is actually a decent (fairly new) road leading to the sanctuary (Road T156).

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Kuala Gandah Day Trip