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Minneriya & Kaudulla National Parks

Minneriya & Kaudulla National Parks

Imagine a place where elephants gather in their hundreds. From mature matriarchs to young calves and massive bulls. There are two such places famed for their elephants in Sri Lanka; the Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks. These two ancient man-made reservoirs play host to a massive gathering of elephants during the dry season every year. The Minneriya and Kaudulla tanks were built by great King Mahasen in the 3rd Century AD and provides water for the cultivations of the entire region. During the dry season the receding waters give way to lush green meadows of grass. It is this grass which attracts these herds of elephants into the open. The elephant herds move between these two tanks during the dry season and the onset of the wet season. When the water levels are too high the herd of elephants retreat to the Hurulu Forest Reserve which is on higher ground.

The elephants come from all parts of the region, and gather around the receding banks to feed and bathe in the cool waters of the tank. The gathering also plays host to lone bulls in musth (a heightened form of aggression with elevated testosterone which the bulls succumb to during the mating season) who come in search of potential mates. Among these bulls are the rare tuskers who might be seen mingling with the herds. These elusive and fast disappearing relics of a bygone era are a sight to behold, striding along the plains like a colossus, testing the air for receptive females.

Both Minneriya and Kaudulla parks enable visitors to get up close and personal with these giant animals and get a good view out in the open. At times the jeeps will be literally surrounded by elephants who will continue their social interactions and behavior. It is a treat to see these intelligent giants and their social behaviors, which at times remind us of ourselves. The playful antics of the young calves are a joy to watch, as well as the loving care of their mothers. The parks are also home to a myriad of birds ranging from the majestic birds of prey such as the White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle and if one is lucky the rare and majestic Black Eagle. Also present are the many water birds such as the Painted Stork, Spot-billed Pelican, Asian Open bill, Greater Thick-nee and Marsh Sandpipers.

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