Minneriya National Park
Minneriya National Park is m the midst of three agricultural towns: Habarana, Polonnaruwa and Minneriya. This is a heavenly area for Elephant coming from the neighboring jungles to enjoy the lush grass fields on the banks of the Minneriya reservoir, especially during the dry season. Reports of elephant sightings range from 100 to a surprising 700. Endemic monkeys as well as many resident and migratory bird species can also be spotted.
There are endemic reptiles such as the painted-lip lizard and the other reptiles that dwell here are the saltwater crocodile, the Indian python and the water monitor. The park doesn’t offer accommodation but excellent lodging can be secured in the adjacent areas of Sigiriya and Habarana. Minneriya National Park is in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. This became a national park in August 1997, having been declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. This was done to protect the catchment of Minneriya tank and the wildlife of the surrounding area and receives an average rainfall of 1,500-2,000 millimeters. The lowest temperature and the highest of the park are 20.6 °C and 34.5 °C respectively. The national park’s faunal species include 24 species of mammals, 160 species of birds, 9 species of amphibians, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish, and 75 species of butterflies.
The Minneriya reservoir is an important habitat for large water birds such as Lesser Adjutant, Painted Stork, and Spot-billed Pelican. Minneriya is a dormitory for many resident as well as migrant bird species. Large numbers of elephants are attracted to grass fields on the edges of the reservoir during the dry season and the Minneriya tank contributes to sustain a large herd of elephants.
The individual elephants that gather in numbers are around 150 – 200. Some reports account number of elephants as high as 700. They come from Wasgamuwa National Park and benefit from food and shelter of the park’s forest. Tourists visit Minneriya largely because of elephants; especially in dry season from August to December as it is the high season to witness elephants in Minneriya.
Access Route:- Colombo – Kurunegala via Habarana Polonnaruwa Road. The park office and the entrance are located at Ambagaswewa where you can obtain a permit and a guide. The closest town is Polonnaruwa 24 kms away from the park