Sri Lanka reservoir flood move may end elephant gathering: hoteliers

June 29, 2011 (LBO) – A plan by authorities to flood an ancient reservoir in Sri Lanka during the dry season may disrupt a centuries old migration of wild elephants who congregate in what is possibly the largest such gathering in the world, a leisure group has warned. Around August each year elephants running into hundreds gather around the Minneriya reservoir known as a tank, build by Sri Lanka’s ancient kings for irrigation.

The spectacle has turned into a major tourist attraction and has been dubbed the ‘The Gathering’ by the travel trade. A similar gathering in a smaller scale takes place in the nearby Kawdulla tank.

But now there were plans to keep the tanks flooded during the dry season.

A N Esufally, chairman of Sri Lanka’s Serendib Leisure group, which has a hotel in the area, says flooding the tanks which may disturb the “centuries-old migration pattern, and had the “potential to create greater man-animal conflicts and deter elephant conservation.”

Elephants move to the large tank in an annual migration as smaller water holes dry up elsewhere in the forests, in search of the succulent grass growing in the tank bed.

In the dry season a vast grassy plain crops up in the drying lake bed, providing a lush source of food for elephan