The Minneriya national park was established in 1997. It is an 8,800-hectare area of forest concentrated around a 2000-year-old reservoir. The reservoirs that were built by the ancient kings of Sri Lanka throughout the dry zone have for millennia supported not just human life but vast numbers of animals as well.
During the dry months of August to October, Minneriya, and the adjoining Kaudulla National Park become the stage for one Sri Lanka’s most spectacular wildlife events. Lush grass that emerges from the receding waters of the Minneriya reservoir attracts large numbers of Elephants. They can be seen in a super-herd of up to 300 – 400 Elephants, making it the largest gathering of Asian Elephants in the world!
Other rare mammals like the Sloth Bear and Grey Slender Loris are also frequently seen within the park. It is also a good place to spot many of the common mammals of Sri Lanka such as Wild Buffalo, Spotted Deer, Grey Langur, and Wild Boar. The park also has a population of Leopards although sightings are not very common. The reservoir and the surrounding grassy plains provide ample opportunity for spotting many species of wading birds as well as raptors such as the Grey-headed Fish Eagle and the White-bellied Sea Eagle.