Funday Times

Elephant Gathering at Minneriya
By Chathuri Dissanayake, Pix by Sanka Vidanagama

When the long drought season in the dry zone drags on over the months of July and August the tanks and other water sources dry out. When this happens it is hard for the elephants living in the surrounding areas to find water and food. So they gather around Minneriya tank inside the Minneriya National Park which never runs dry even in the dry season, to drink and feed on the grass that grows on the tank bed.

When the water level drops, grass starts growing on the fresh soil of the tank bed. This is relished by the elephants. So, many elephants gather around the Minneriya tank which was built by King Mahasen
hundreds of years ago, to eat this grass and drink water.

On average a fully grown elephant needs about 100 litres of water a day. During the dry months the elephants gather at Minneriya tank in search of water. Later in the year around the month of September the elephants move to Kaudulla tank in search of more water and food.

About two hundred elephants can be seen on the tank bed on any given afternoon during the months of July to September. They eat, drink and frolic on the now dry tank bed.

You can see herds and herds of elephants and if you are lucky you will even see one or two tuskers. This gathering of elephants is considered to be the largest in South Asia and attracts many visitors who want to witness this annual event.

On the Safari you will also see a lot of other animals like different species of monkeys, deer and if you are lucky you may even see a leopard on the prowl.

On the tank bed you will be able to see many birds which have come to fish on the shallow waters such as painted storks, egrets and the white, dark bellied fish eagle, among others.

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