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Minneriya National Park

Minneriya National Park is a national park in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. This spot has designated as a national park on 12 August 1997, initially declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. The reason for saying the site is protected is to protect the Minneriya tank’s catchment and the surrounding area’s wildlife. The tank is of historical significance, having been made by King Mahasen in the third centenary AD. The park is a dry season feeding ground for the elephant population, dwelling in the forests of the Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa, and Matale districts. Along with Girithale and Kaudulla, Minneriya forms one of the 70 Important Bird Areas of Sri Lanka. The park is situated 182 kilometers from Colombo.

The area is situated in the dry zone of Sri Lanka and receives an average rainfall of 1,500–2,000 millimeters. The lowest temperature and highest in the park are 20.6 °C and 34.5 °C, respectively. The primary water sources for the tank are a diversion of the Amban River and the Elahera canal. The wet season lasts during the northeastern period from May to September and October to January, which is considered the dry season. The central habitats of Minneriya are of several types, including low-canopy montane forests, intermediate high-canopy, grasslands, scrublands, abandoned Chena lands, secondary forests, rocky outcrops, and wetlands.

The national park’s faunal species include 25 species of reptiles, 160 species of birds, 09 species of amphibians, 24 species of mammals, 26 species of fish, and 75 species of butterflies.

Many Sri Lankan elephants are attracted to grass fields on the reservoir’s edges during the dry season. The Minneriya tank contributes to sustaining a big herd. Elephants gathered here is numbering around 150–200. According to some reports, the number of elephants is about 700. They immigrate here from Wasgamuwa National Park and benefit from the shelter and food of the park’s forest. Travelers visit Minneriya largely because of elephants, especially in the dry season.

The park is an essential habitat for the two endemic monkeys of Sri Lanka: purple-faced langur and toque macaque. Large herbivorous mammals like Sri Lankan sambar deer and Sri Lankan axis deer frequent the park. Rare and endangered species like the Sri Lankan leopard and Sri Lankan sloth bear inhabit Minneriya. 

The Minneriya reservoir is an essential habitat for large water birds such as lesser adjutant, spot-billed pelican, and painted stork. Minneriya is a dormitory for most residents as same as immigrant bird species. About 2000 small cormorants there. The other water birds here are great white pelican, ruddy turnstone, and grey heron. Among the endemic birds are:

                 Sri Lanka grey hornbill.

                 Sri Lanka hanging parrot.

                 Sri Lanka junglefowl

                 Crimson-fronted barbet.

                 Black-crested bulbul.

The number of threatened birds recorded from Minneriya national park is 11.

 There are eight species of endemic reptiles, and all of them consider threatened. Lankascinus Fallax and Painted-lip lizard are among them. The other snakes are the saltwater crocodile, Indian python, Asian water monitor, and Bengal monitor. Four of the freshwater fishes recorded from Minneriya are endemic to Sri Lanka.

The primary threat to the park’s forest is clearance for firewood, and the practice might decrease the reservoir’s water levels. Water pollution in overfishing, encroachment, illegal agricultural practices, bathing areas, and poaching are the other threats caused by man. The spread of invasive Lantana Camara is a natural threat. The site is also part of the Minneriya-Giritale Nature Preserve, which has declared in four stages from 1988 to 1997. Conservative measures have been proposed, including habitat restoration and removing livestock from the area. Minneriya National Park covers an area of 8,889 hectares. 


Useful Information

  • May to October is the best time to visit Minneriya National Park because of the famous gathering of wild elephants.

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Minneriya National Park

The collection of elephants in Sri Lanka’s Minneriya National Park is one of the world’s most spectacular wildlife phenomena. Hundreds of Asian elephants usually congregate around the park’s central lake during Sri Lanka’s dry season. A lake is an incredible place for elephants and large flocks of birds that come to fish in the shallows.


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