Kaudulla National Park is situated just north of Minneriya National Park. Minneriya is famous for the annual Elephant Gathering taking place in this area’s dry season in the northern hemisphere summer months. Dry season in the north, east and south-east of the island comes to an end in October when the anti-monsoon winds from north-east bring some rainfall, though less than the main monsoon in the south-west a few months earlier on. However, particularly November can be quite rainy in the dry season due to the Cyclone season north of Australia. In October the elephants at Minneriya tank start migrating back to their homeland in Trincomalee District, where they will live in smaller groups again as long as enough water and fresh food is available. Their main habitat is Somawathi National Park, but they will be distributed there and not gather at a tank.
But on their way to the north there is a second Elephant Gathering at the Kaudulla tank. The Gathering in Kaudulla National Park is not as big as that in Minneriya National Park earlier on, up to 100 animals can be seen bathing in the late afternoon, whereas up to 200 elephants at once can be seen at the Minneriya Tank in August and September, known as "largest herd of wild elephants in Asia". 400 individuals or even more live the Minneriya area in the local dry season, but not all of them join the Gathering. Some of the elephants don’t migrate to the north (Kaudulla and Somawathi) but to the south (Wasgomuwa). Furthermore, some elephants only cross Kaudulla National Park without staying here for a month or two. These are the two reasons why there are usually less elephants at the Kaudulla Elephant Gathering than at the Minneriya Gathering earlier on. The Kaudulla Gathering usually takes place in November and early December. However, there is no guarantee, the Gathering size and season can vary from year to year. In some years, holiday makers can have good luck in Kaudulla National Park even as late as Christmas. Locals in the tourist areas of Habarana, Sigiriya and Giritale will be able to tell you, if and where the herd can be seen, they often know very well, how many wild elephants were counted the days before. But the size of the Gathering herd can vary even from day to day, between 40 and 100 individuals.
Kaudulla reservoir was built by the same King, Mahasena, who constructed the more famous Minneriya tank. The two tanks from the 3rd century BC influenced the wildlife, creating, as a side effect, the event called “Elephant Gathering” in ancient times. The Minneriya and Kaudulla tanks (ancient reservoirs) and surrounding forest habitat were only recently designated as national parks, in 1997 and 2002 respectively, in order to provide a chain of habitats for the migrating elephants. Kaudulla can be considered as the connecting corridor between their wet season and dry season habitats, Somwathi and Minneriya respectively.
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