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Getting up close with elephants

Everyone that witnesses an elephant is truly fascinated by these majestic beings and their intelligent behaviour. As one of the few remaining megaherbivores on the planet, elephants hold great national value as a major tourist attraction. There are numerous places to see elephants in the country, listed below are a few.

Image result for Udawalawe
Mstyslav Chernov, Bathing elephants. Udawalawe National Park. Sri Lanka, CC BY-SA 3.0

Udawalawe
Declared a national park in 1972 and spanning 30,800 hectares, Udawalawe is home to roughly 500 elephants and other animals. A former teak plantation, they graze in scattered herds in the grasslands amongst the remaining teak trees. There’s an elephant orphanage nearby, where you’ll find injured or abandoned elephants being cared for, after which they’re released into the park.

Minneriya
Designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1938 to protect the Minneriya tank and wildlife of the surrounding area, you’ll find between 150 to 200 elephants roaming the park from July to August. In the dry season, an event is known as the ‘elephant gathering’ occurs and is a great opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts to observe the social behaviour of the elephants in the wild. Just a 30-minute drive from Habarana Village by Cinnamon, a rather well-known Sri Lanka Resort, Minneriya is ideal for those looking to get a glimpse of these beasts in their natural habitat.

Pinnawala
Located in the central hills, this elephant orphanage was established in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. Abandoned and disabled wild elephants get care and protection at this special place that spreads across 24 acres. You can observe elephants bathing, as they play and splash around.