Elephants in Tangkahan Sumatra
In the past, there were many wild elephants on Sumatra and often caused great problems for the local population as they destroyed rice fields and eating the crops.
Interesting in this regard was that when the Sumatra railroad was build in the 1880s, and telegraph poles were directly put besides the rail, many of these poles were shortly afterwards pulled out of the ground by elephants who did this for fun. This shows that in those days there were many elephants in the Gunung Leuser region.
Nowadays the Sumatran elephant is almost extinct. Only at a few places we can see them in their natural environment, the largest is the elephant training center in Waykambas near Bandar Lampung in South Sumatra and in Tangkahan in North Sumatra.
In the 1920s former governor Westenenk of East Sumatra district, published a book named Waar Mensch en Tijger Buren Zijn (Where Man and Tiger are Neighbours) in which he described, besides extensive stories about the Sumatran tiger, also about elephants, who were in these years still all over Sumatra. The following quote is from his book:
‘Just at the moment when she reached for the durian fruit, along the tree, something which looked like a giant snake came down and approached her. She looked up and saw that it was an elephant trunk. The naughty eyes of the elephant seemed to be lighting up, and subsequently she began to see another animal and one more.. Without knowing it she had wandered into a herd of elephants… She began to scream out of fear which in turn shocked the elephants and sparked a thundering chaos. In the kampong the children suddenly felt the mood turning bleak and everybody was shocked and silent…They followed the herd.. deep in the mountains they heard the well-known roaring and falling of trees…. The herd passed by and at a short distance from the herd.. six cows appeared. A young bull with little ivory; sociable ear flapping and with deep, sounds, the company slowly strolled along…’
(Westenenk, L.C. Waar Mensch en Tijger Buren Zijn ‘s Gravenhage 1928: 64-66)
Explore Our Exclusive Tangkahan Sumatra Tours
Distance from Medan about 5 hours, it is not possible to return to Medan in the evening of the same day. You have to stay there for overnight in a simple accommodation.