Saturday, April 18, 2009

heroic elephant (1894 Teluk Anson)

The bull Elephant waited on the railway tracks for a face off with a Train on that fateful day of 1894 in Teluk Anson.(now Teluk Intan)

A lot of stories abound about what prompted the sad suicidal episode of the elephant and the train.

Some say it had a score to settle with the 'Iron Beast'.
Rumour has it that it was seeking vengeance for a calf killed earlier by the same train. While others claimed that it was merely defending its herd from the ' new enemy' that has encroached into their domain.

Railway connecting Teluk Anson to Tapah , Ipoh was completed in 1893 and its daily rumbling through the jungle had threatened the habitat of the gentle giants. So it was pay back time. Presumably!

The British Engine Driver could not do anything because it had stood defiantly on the railway tracks and refused to budge in spite of the loud whistling and hooting as the train thundered and hurtled towards it
.

The beast was really huge and taller than the 'Iron Horse' and it collided with it head on at 50 mph (100km).

The impact derailed the engine and 3 coaches. Passengers mostly Chinese Towkays and Business men returning to Kuala Lumpur after visits to Tin Mines in the Kinta Valley.


Many were hurt in the twisted wreck and 2 Indian workers died of injuries sustained in the accident.The Elephant was killed instantaneously.
The then British Govt. erected a memorial to commemorate the heroic last stand of the gallant Elephant.

Was the Elephant greyish white? No confirmation on that.But what we do know is that the poor creature was butchered even in death to be used as a memorabilia for posterity.

The skull is kept by Taiping Museum. Some bones are with KTMB (Railways). But the priceless of all, the Ivory Tusks found its way half way around the world to then British Empire,England.

This place should be in the Tourist brochure of 'must see' places in Teluk Intan, Perak. Lest we forget.Such a beautiful tale should be known throughout the land.

Actually Teluk Intan has a lot of historical and mystifying tales waiting to be unearthed.

Hope somebody out there has more to share.

I came upon this place when I was looking for Rubber seeds as a child and the memory ot it stayed with me until this day. Check this out.

12 comments:

Nicholas Harp said...

A true inspiration.

stellaannfred said...

Remarkable!! His reasons were all of the above! A brave soul indeed!

Manel Diaz said...

I truly belive that the Bull Elephant stood to defend his herd. Infact a very similar story I came to know which took place in Ceylon about some 50 years ago. The bull elephant did not allow the people to catch smaller elephants and faced the gunshots and finally sacrificed his life while trying to save the herd. It was a very sad story mostly the older people would know and remember it very well.

ky cheah said...

Thanks for visiting, friends.
It was truly an amazing story......a poignant episode in my nation's history which should not be forgotten.

LCS said...

I will share this story with my grand-children as I teach them to respect all creatures and their habitat. Thank you for keeping this story alive, this beautiful creature did not die in vain.

Natalie Lois said...

Thanks Cheah for sharing this article and for helping generations to fully understand some of the hidden histories of Malaysia. You should submit the article to an archive or national paper, somewhere where the contents and memories will be preserved as Malaysian history. Its very apt now especially seeing how much of reckless land plundering is going on in Malaysia now.

Phang WL said...

I remember reading this story and seeing the photographs in my geography lesson while in primary school. There must be many older folks who may still keep a copy of that textbook.

hightide said...

Thanks for this story. I now know where William Kotzwinkle got the inspiration for the wonderful title story in his collection "Elephant Bangs Train."

Dori the Giant said...

Ahhh, touching story!

John McAndrew said...

Those of us who love this planet and hope for the continued existence of our and many other species could learn a lot from this elephant.

Laurynbb said...

Very Cool, thanks!

Freddie Lynn said...

Thank you Mr. Cheah for sharing your stories.