The month of July marks the beginning of the dry season in Sri Lanka. As the rain ceases, the vast paddy and chena fields in the central province of the island are nourished by the Minneriya Tank. Fresh grass blooms on the land surrounding the lake creating a velvet carpet and the evening sun softens splattering pastel shades across the sky. Breaking the silence, the earth booms to the steps of its visitors, hundreds of them as they gather to enjoy the vibrance of the scene.
The Elephant Gathering in Minneriya is a spectacle of nature. Elephants gather in groups called ‘female herds’ and over twenty herds gather to the banks of Minneriya Tank. More than three hundred wild pachyderms from Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks gather around this man-made reservoir to feed on the fresh grass, drink and bathe from the cool waters, socialize with each other making this an iconic experience for any onlooker. The interactions between the calves, males and individual elephants are nothing short of interesting. They gently wade into the water, splash the young ones, play and roam freely; a large family affair; a once in a lifetime opportunity for onlookers.
Alongside these gentle giants are other animals of the National Park adding colour and vivacity of the event. An occasional spotted deer, a few jackals and a plethora of wetland birds such as Pelicans, Painted Storks and Black Headed Ibis can be seen amidst the crowds of playful elephants. The Gathering is an undisturbed and unforced sequence of events creating an exquisite illustration of nature at its finest and purest state.
Vimukthi Weerathunge is a Wildlife Biologist and a part of the Cinnamon Nature Trails team who has been a keen observer of this curious phenomenon. He calls this event of nature as harmonious as violence among the hundreds of elephants is non-existent. He points out how the Gathering shows the world the soft and gentle nature of the rough-skinned mammals often misguided to be aggressive. As per his experience, this phenomenon sheds better light on the persistent elephant-human conflict in Sri Lanka.
Vimukthi speaks on behalf of the giants. He states that witnessing the Gathering is peaceful, as the creatures participating in it unless their territory is violated or they detect a threat to their safety. “In order of evolution, these giants have been walking earth millions of years before us, making humans intrusive visitors in their home. Respecting their space and the laws of nature becomes our responsibility as species with advanced minds and the Minneriya Elephant Gathering is a reminder of it.” He adds on.
Vimukthi further speaks on the significance of this event. The land of the reservoir witnesses the largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world, ranking it the 6th animal spectacle on earth by Lonely Planet. He explains that every year from mid-June to mid-October the Minneriya and Kaudulla National Park becomes the location of a world-renowned wild-life miracle. Cinnamon Lodge Habarana ideally located in the close vicinity of the parks is a luxury resort built in harmony with nature, for those who find solace in epic greenery and wonders such as the Gathering. Safari rides to the National Park to witness the epic event are phenomenal, as it is curated in a manner where the best times and locations that offers the finest vantage point to witness this. Vimukthi and his team believes in co-existence with nature, so all activities here are scientifically designed with respect to preserve the homes of the animals, especially, elephants.
When nature collides with the epitome of hospitality and warmth, it is the holiday of a lifetime. If your next getaway is in search of serenity and peace only nature can offer, Cinnamon Lodge Habarana awaits your visit. Witness one of the greatest performances of nature while indulging in the luxury of Cinnamon Resorts. Learn the stories of nature, and let them offer you solace you are in search for. Indulge in the luxury of unsubdued nature. After all, that’s what the best holidays are made of, isn’t it?