Minneriya, a small town located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, is widely known for two main attractions – the Lake of Minneriya and the National Park. It is also quite close to more tourist hotspots such as the great historical sites in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya.
The previous wildlife sanctuary was deemed a National Park in August 1997, the main motive being protection and preservation of the Minneriya tank along with all the wildlife surrounding it. Rich in history, the tank was established by King Mahasen in the 3rd century and is situated at a distance of about 180 kilometres from Colombo.
During the dry season, the elephant population in and around the forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee districts depend solely on this tank for their sustenance.
Being situated in the dry zone of Sri Lanka, the temperatures shoot up to 34.5?C during the months of May to September which is considered as the dry season. The Amban River and Elahara canal are the main tributaries to the tank. Habitats of Minneriya are of varying landscapes ranging from low canopy forests to high canopy and grasslands, wetlands and chena lands.
With an abundance of flora and fauna, the Minneriya National Park is home to over 24 species of mammals. Birds, amphibians, reptiles and butterflies are also plentiful consisting of numerous types and species
Minneriya is largely visited due to its elephants in addition to other species. These magnificent creatures gather in herds especially during the dry season, and some records state that at times there are elephants as high as 700 in number.
The two main endemic monkeys of Sri Lanka, namely the purple-faced langur and tongue macaque have also made Minneriya their natural dwelling. The Sri Lankan leopard and the sloth bear, two species which are considered endangered are also found here.
Together with other reservoirs, the Minneriya tank made irrigation in East flourish and this laid the foundation for the rich agricultural trade with South Asia by means of the harbour of Trincomalee.