Wildlife Tour to Kavudulla National Park
To witness world famous ‘gathering’ [& lost opportunity]
Kavudulla National Park [KNP] is situated in Polonnaruwa District and in North Central Province. One can reach KNP by turning right at Hatares-kotuva on Colombo-Habarana-Trincomalee main road, passing Gal-Oya junction Railway Station. This is where the railway line diversion take place by one line goes to Trincomalee via Kanthale and the other goes to Batticaloa via Kaduruwela [polonnaruwa].
KNP is 220.km away from Colombo and dominated by Kavudulla tank [weva]. The tank is surrounded by floodplains, forest and wooded hills extended eastward. From November to March the tank usually fills up with ‘Northeast Monsoons’ and excess water from Minneriya tank. In the following months water releases through draw down for cultivation and feeds Kanthale tank. KNP was declared National Park status in 1998 just few months after Minneriya was declared as a National Park.
Some of the tuskers lensed by our Snr photographer Mr. Gerry Nanayakkara. [enjoy these magnificent giants on slideshow mode. pl ‘click’ on images for large screen] Shot on previous wildlife tours.
Wild animals in the area, especially elephants [eplephas maximus] are largely benefitted by abundance of water in the reservoir and lush grasslands around it for their day-to-day consumption. KNP and it’s surroundings plays a vital role as a feeding grounds for many fauna and flora.
Month of August is the best to witness world famous ‘gathering’, either at Minneriya National Park or at KNP; wild elephant herds migrating to and from Wasgamuwa N.P. to either Minneriya N.P. or to KNP or as far as Somawathiya N.P. A single elephant need 200-250.kg of vegetation and 60-70 Ltrs of water per day.
We stopped in Inamaluwa [near Sigiriya turn point] and got in to a small bus which took us to ‘Govipala Cottages’ for lunch. It is owned by Mr. Brandi-gampola [surname] but we call him simply ‘Brandy’ [not Ranjan’s brandy]. We had a ‘quick-beer-thirst-quencher’ with ‘wev malu’[tank fish] for bite and lunch after. They were to supply dinner to us on our way back.
We were good two hours late on schedule when we reached the park. There was one kilometer traffic jam before park entrance. Our entrance tickets had been purchased but reaching the entrance was a problem due to excessive number of Jeeps been queued along narrow road.
As soon as we entered the park, we saw a giant tusker walking along bund of the tank and unmistakably it was going for afternoon water dip. The bull was well built and could have been 30-40yrs of age. Tusks were nicely curved and well grown. Jeep drivers were in mighty hurry to take us further down to see elephants and they wanted to beat incoming rain too. Otherwise we could have waited and let it cross the bund and go to other side toward tank. Since the bull was not coming into clearance and was covering itself from possession of Jeeps, we could not photograph clearly. But everybody took some kind of shots of it.
Due to a freak storm with heavy downpour, lightning and gusts of winds, our hopes of witnessing this spectacular phenomena was vanished. All the ‘Kele Group’ members and invited guests were disappointed in the afternoon as elephants got scared and took flight toward forest for cover. Floodplains started turning into muddy pools and wind threatening constantly by making canvass hoods of six jeeps flying at every angle exposing everybody including children to raging rains.
Thunder and lightning was so frightening, our contact and Jeep driver Kumara later told us that literally elephants started to run for safety with tails twisted and erected at their backs. Our Jeep driver ‘Gamini’ said that this was the first time in his life [for the last eight years] returned after a safari drive without seeing an elephant.
This was the first time ‘KG’ group organized such a large group consisting 35 adults and 5 children and two year old ‘Ranvi’. It was a good experience managing every aspect of the tour other than [very crucial] timing factor. Everybody realized that we were approximately two hours behind our original schedule.
But as soon as we got in to our bus everybody was ok and in merry mood. Everybody was relaxed after stop at Dambulla P&S and soon spirits started flowing and singing started.
Though rain disappointed every spectator came from Colombo, it surely a blessing for villagers and animals not only in Kavudulla area but for whole North and North Central Provinces itself.
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