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Minneriya National Park

Giritale, Ancient Central, Sri Lanka.
Location : Giritale
Exceptional 1 Review/s

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Overview
Minneriya national park spans over 8890 hectare land that is covered with dry mixed evergreen forests and scrublands, in Polonnaruwa district. The most prominent feature of the park is Minneriya tank which was built by king Mahasen in third century AD. It boosts not only the historical value, but also the ecological significance of the place. Thus the park was inscribed as a national park in 1997 with the intention of protecting the catchment of worthy Minneriya tank.
The area is situated in dry zone of Sri Lanka and it receives an average rainfall of 1,500–2,000 mm while the highest temperature is recorded as 34.5 °C. Several types of ecosystems could be seen in this park such as montane forests, scrublands, grasslands, rocky outcrops, and wetlands.

The vegetation of the forest is dominated by timber woods such as Satinwood (chloroxylon swietenia), Milla (Vitex pinnata),Ebony (Diospyros ebenum),Halmilla(Berrya cordifolia), Palu (Manilkara hexandra), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria),teak and grass species like  Bambusa bambos, Ceylon Date Palm (Phoenix pusilla), Imperata cylindrica, and Panicum maximum.

The major attraction of Minneriya is ‘the gathering’ of large herd of elephants which number up to 150, on the grass fields at the reservoir during the dry season. It is supposed that they migrate here from neighboring areas such as Wasgamuwa national park and Kantale. This is certainly a matchless phenomenon that hardly occurs anywhere on earth. To witness such a magnificent sight, make your visit to Minneriya during dry season that lasts till September from May.

The park is a habitat of 23 other mammal species besides elephants. They are leopards, fishing cats, sambhur deer, the endangered rusty spotted cat, sloth bear and Toque Macaque. Out of 25 reptile species, there are eight endemic species and all of them are considered endangered. Painted-lip Lizard and Lankascincus fallax are among them. Four of the fresh water fishes recorded from Minneriya is endemic to Sri Lanka. 9 species of amphibians and 75 species of butterflies are recognized in Minneriya national Park.

The Minneriya reservoir is a vital habitat for 160 species of birds including Lesser Adjutant, Painted Stork, Spot-billed Pelican, Little Cormorants , Great White Pelican, Ruddy Turnstone, and Grey Heron.  Sri Lanka Jungle fowl, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Brown-capped Babbler, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Black-crested Bulbul and Crimson-fronted Barbet are among the endemic bird species.

Along with Kaudulla and Girithale, Minneriya forms one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Sri Lanka.
 
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"The "Gathering" is a MUST SEE!!!!!"

Reviewed on March 28, 2013

by Evan from Spain

Its only here that i saw a such a huge gathering of wild elephants. Even though the article states 150, when i went, in 2012, it was close to 225. and there were quite a few baby elephants as well. Its a beautiful sight and the trackers are well experienced and prepared for anything.