During the Monsoon the two reservoirs, or tanks, that are the focal points for the elephants of Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks, fill up so completely that there is little grassland for the elephants to venture out of the forest on to. And that makes viewing them difficult. Since this is the first year that these elephants have been studied, we are still learning their ranging patterns. Manori found that after the rains began most of the elephants disappeared from the tank shore, but a few families lingered on and were seen on a regular basis.
Right now Manori is in the southern part of the country. She has been called to give evidence in an enchroament case involving the Uda Walawe National Park, which will be heard by the Supreme Court. This story has been making the press and we hope to be able to bring you more news soon.
Meanwhile, we are fortunate that there are so many elephant enthusiasts in Sri Lanka and one of them, Srilal Miththapala (who, incidently, has written a book on elephants and owns a beautiful eco-friendly lodge – Hotel Sigiriya – in the area) has kindly sent us some observations. So it seems as though some families (the same ones seen by Manori?) are still hanging out around the tanks.
Once the rains stop the authorities will begin to use the water in the tanks for irrigation in an almost two thousand year old practice. As the water recedes so the elephants return once more to the fertile grassland, reaching a peak in numbers by August.
OBSERVATION OF ELEPHANTS by Srilal Miththapala:
13th January approx: 25 in Minneriya and 35 in Kaudulla
14th January approx: 20 in Minneriya and 25 in Kaudulla
15th January approx: 15 in Minneriya and 10 in Kaudulla
And a couple of photographs – note how green the grass is!