Situated in North Central Sri Lanka, Minneriya National Park is the venue of the Minneriya Elephant Gathering.
Every dry season, elephants from the surrounding jungles and wildlife parks take a familiar path that is engraved in their DNA towards the Minneriya Tank, where water levels receding for the dry season has given way to young sprouts of grass and lush plants creating a perfect location for the world’s largest gathering of the Asian elephants.
Spread over an area of 8000 hectares of secondary forests, shrubland, grassland and wet outcrops that surround the large Minneriya Tank, a man-made reservoir built over 2000 years ago, the park is home to large herds of Asian Elephants and is the host venue to the great elephant migration of Sri Lanka, an elephantine ritual followed throughout the centuries.
Large herds of elephants, sometimes with 200 and more members gather at the banks of Minneriya reservoir to feast on this fresh grass all throughout the dry season, which falls from July through early November.
Between their feasts, the elephant herds with multiple generations of mother and baby elephants head to the waters to frolic, play and bath. Closely following the herds of female and juvenile elephants comes the giant tuskers and bull elephants, making it one of the largest elephant gatherings in the world.
In addition to the sheer number of elephants that gather at the park for the dry season, it also is home to a number of leopards and sloth bears as well as over 160 species of local and migrant birds.
Incidentally, the Minneriya Reservoir is also an important habitat for large flocks of water birds including Lesser Adjutant, Painted Stork and Spot Billed Pelican. Large flocks consisting of nearly 2000 Little Cormorants can be seen by the reservoir feeding and nesting on the surrounding trees, which makes Minneriya a meeting point of elephants and birds around the Northern-Central plains of Sri Lanka during the dry season.