Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow

This grand old picture dates from 1894 when a bull elephant gallantly refused to move off the rail tracks, close to Teluk Anson (now Teluk Intan) in defence of his herd against what he saw as an intruder into his domain. Unfortunately the train, which had previously killed a calf elephant in the same place, was doing some 80 kilometres per hour and the driver could not stop in time. The two therefore met head on.

The net result was one dead elephant, three coaches derailed and two dead railway workers who died from their injuries sometime later. A number of businesspeople and other passengers were also injured.

This event is marked by a signboard at the spot of the collision, erected by the British Government.

  1. louis says:

    Poor elephant, all he was doing was what he saw was right. And then someone seems to want to walk all over his dead body! Where is the respect? What happened to his body?

  2. cheah kok yoon says:

    Everybody wanted a piece of the heroic elephant.If I am not mistaken the skull is displayed at the taiping museum and its tusks in the national museum, kuala lumpur.
    A concrete plaque to commemorate the incident still stands. Check this out.

    • Hoo Chiong Tik says:

      Want to get in touch with u to know more about the Teluk Intan history. R u live in Teluk Intan or elsewhere ?
      I can be contacted by this no : 013-284 9229


  3. Ipoh Remembered says:

    How to get to the plague? That requires a long answer, Bhagwant bhai, but meanwhile you can see a photograph here:


    And now that you’ve brought this incident to my mind, I’m reminded of a funny (but true) story.

    In the early 1880s, some Australians visiting Perak were hosted by Hugh Low, the British Resident, who asked them not to hunt or kill elephants while they were in the area. OK, but why, asked the Australians, half-expecting a lecture from the naturalist Low about the need to respect the local fauna. “Why?” said Low. “Well, because the Governor will be making a hunting trip out here soon and I don’t want him to go away disappointed.”


    Anyway, ika … about this:

    This grand old picture dates from 1894 when a bull elephant gallantly refused to move off the rail tracks, close to Teluk Anson […]

    You have included more details in the post above and in database item 6306. Can I ask what the source is?

    Meanwhile, perhaps we should note that the photograph above shows the rear of the train, while in the background on the left you can see that something has been derailed.

    • ika says:

      Ipoh Remembered, I managed to get these scans and several other old railway pictures from, what was, the museum section of KTMB. At the time the section comprised one man and a desk, some photo albums and a couple of cupboards, plt (he said) a store somewhere else.
      I was told that they once had a museum but KTMB could not afford to keep it running!
      Regarding differences between database and blog, the database will be updated. Thanks for pointing out the discrepancy.

      • Ipoh Remembered says:

        Dear ika

        First, I hadn’t noticed a discrepancy between the post and the database entry — but if you saw one and cleared it up then so much the better!

        I asked about sourcing for this reason: there is some discussion of this event on the Internet but it’s all exaggerated and embellished. For example, several coaches are incorrectly said to have been derailed and two or more people killed.

        By e-mail I’ve sent you a copy of a brief incident report filed in February, 1895, five months after the accident occurred. The author is Charlie Hanson, at the time Resident Engineer of the Perak State Railway. (The FMS did not yet exist.) In his report, Hanson says that only the engine and tender were derailed, no coaches. He also says (and I quote) “no one was injured,” although “the driver was thrown off his engine into the jungle by the side of the line.”

        Hanson gives the location of the incident: it occurred along the Tapah-TA line, a little more than three miles before reaching TA. I can add that it was near the railway bridge at Bidor, built in 1892. (Does KTMB still run to TA via Bidor?)

        As to what caused the elephant to behave as it did: As I say, there is speculation on the Internet. But here’s a fact: A short time before the accident, an “elephant drive” had taken place in Chenderiang (not far from Tapah): local people and administrators, annoyed by the activities of local wild elephants, had tried to chase them away. My speculation: the herd that met the train may have been scared away from its native habitat and felt cornered into a last-ditch attempt to save itself.


        Incidentally, a similar accident occurred five years later near Tapah: another male elephant was killed.

        Also incidentally: Charlie Hanson left the UK as a young man and worked in South Africa and Ceylon before he came to Malaya in 1887. He retired in 1906 and died in 1944. He’s buried in Kent next to Maggie, his wife. In his capacity as railroad engineer, he was as responsible as anyone for the early development of Perak. I see that he is not yet mentioned in the ipohWorld database.

  4. Ipoh Remembered says:

    I wrote:

    Hanson gives the location of the incident: it occurred along the Tapah-TA line, a little more than three miles before reaching TA. I can add that it was near the railway bridge at Bidor, built in 1892.

    By e-mail I’ve sent you a paragraph by British Resident Frank Swettenham that confirms the location near the bridge in Bidor.

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