"Minneriya National Park the best location to prepare for safari inside the island!"
The Minneriya National Park is located in the North-Central province of Sri Lanka, 183 kilometres from the capital city Colombo. The area was declared a National Park in 1997, although it had been a wildlife reserve since the late 1930s.
The heart of the National Park is the Minneriya reservoir which nurtures and supports the wildlife of the area. As it is located in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka, this water reservoir is essential for the various creatures who call the area home.
Along with having biological importance, the Minneriya reservoir also has historical importance, having been built by King Mahasen in the 3rd century A.D.The average temperatures in the National Park range from 20˚C to 35˚C and between 1,500 to 2,000 millimetres of rain falls in the area each year between the months of October and January, the rest of the year normally does not receive any rainfall at all.
For this reason the Minneriya reservoir is so important, being fed by the Amban River and Elahera canal the water in the area stays longer than the rains, although in the depth of the dry season the reservoir also mostly dries, exposing grasses and shoots which are essential food sources for elephants and other grazing animals.
The Minneriya National Park spreads over 8,890 hectares and the ecosystems are mainly montane forests, scrublands, grasslands, wetlands and rocky outcrops.
There are 24 different species of mammals who call the park home including deer, elephants which gather in enormous groups of 150-200 individuals, endangered species such as the Sri Lankan Leopard and Sloth Bear, and two species of monkeys which are endemic to Sri Lanka: the Purple-faced Langur and the Toque Macaque.
Needless to say, the huge numbers of elephants which gather in the park are one of the main draws for tourism, and the best months to see them are during the dry season when they come to the Minneriya reservoir to graze.
The other main attraction in the National Park is for birdwatchers; the reservoir is a paradise for over 160 different species of birds and many large water birds including the Lesser Adjutant, the Spot-billed Pelican, the Great White Pelican, Ruddy Turnstone, Grey Heron and the Painted stork.
Many bird species endemic to Sri Lanka can also be found in the park including the Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Brown-capped Babbler, Black-crested Bulbul and the Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill.
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