Situated in North Central Sri Lanka, Minneriya National Park is an over 8000 hectares of secondary forests, scrubland, grassland and wet outcrops that surround the large Minneriya tank, a man-made reservoir built over 2000 years ago. Home to large herds of Asian Elephants the park is also the venue of largest Asian Elephant gathering during the dry season.
A ritual followed throughout the centuries, elephants from the surrounding jungles and wildlife parks take a road that is engraved in their DNA towards the Minneiriya Tank, where water levels receding for the dry season has given way to young sprouts of grass and lush plants.
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 to 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.