Minneriya National Park is situated approximately 180 Km from the Commercial city of Colombo. It is 104 Km from the scared city of Kandy. The national park is located in the North Central province and the closest city is Polonnaruwa. Closet town is Habarana, just ten minutes’ drive.
The national park covers an area of 8889.4 ha.
In August 1997, the area was designated as a National park, but originally declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. The tank (Minneriya tank) has a historical importance; it is built by the King Mahasen in third century AD.
Minneriya rainwater reservoir is the crucial point of the national park. Minneriya National park is part of the elephant corridor which joins up with the Kaudulla National Park and Wasgamuwa National park. Due to this reason Minneriya National park gives a great opportunity to watch herds of wild elephants throughout the year. May to October is reckoned to be the greatest time to visit Minneriya National park to view the wild elephant gathering.
Main Attraction of the park
Wild elephant gathering at the tank is the focal attraction of the Minneriya National park. During the dry season the area is a feeding ground for the wild elephant population dwelling in forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee districts. Elephants gathered on the edges of the reservoir during the dry season can amount around 150 – 200. A jeep safari is the most appropriate method for site seeing at Minneriya National Park.
Climate at the National Park
The national park is located in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Therefore it receives an average annual rainfall of 1500 – 2000 mm. Temperature range from 20.6 C and 34.5 C respectively. Elehara canal and the Amban river are the main resources of water for the tank. The wet season is from October to January, where North Eastern monsoon prevail.
The national park is considered to have 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.
Minneriya is a dormitory for many local and migrant birds. Great white-pelican, ruddy turnstone and grey heron can be seen. Also endemic bird species such as Sri Lanka jungle fowl, Sri Lanka hanging parrot, brown-capped babbler, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, black-crested bulbul and crimson-fronted barbet were reported. 11 number of threatened birds species were also reported from the national park.
There are 8 species of endemic reptiles and all are considered as threatened. Saltwater crocodile, Indian python, Asian water monitor, Painted-lip lizard and Bengal monitor are the reptile species found at the park.