Kaudulla National Park is part of Sri Lank’s most important elephant corridor, the route of annual migratory movements of elephants from the northeast of the island. During the dry period, which falls into northern-hemisphere summer months, wild elephants take refuge at the large reservoirs of Minneriya and Kaudulla, where there’s still enough fresh grass growing at the banks of the tanks. Minneriya is the focal point of this so-called elephant gathering, with up to several hundred Asian elephants. But Kaudulla National Park also has large seasonal herds during this period and is an alternative to the much more crowded Minneriya National Park. In October and November, the elephants migrate back to the jungles in the hinterland of Trincomalee and form small groups. On their way from Minneriya to the northeast, they usually take a break at the Kaudulla reservoir. That’s why Kaudulla National Park becomes Sri Lanka’s main attractions for elephant enthusiasts in the month of November. Both reservoirs, Minneriya and Kaudulla, were constructed already in antiquity, namely by the famous King Mahasena (late 3rd century AD). The tanks served two purposes right from the beginning, not only providing water for newly cultivated paddy areas downstream but also providing water and food for the wild beasts upstream. In a sense, Sri Lanka‘s famous elephant gathering – the largest natural herd of Asian elephants at all – is man-made, for more than one and a half centuries.
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Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka