Suddenly, a Brahminy Kite dives and emerges with a fish clamped firmly in its talons, water dripping like a stream of diamonds as it soars upward. Thousands of other birds herons, cormorants and egrets await their turn, floating or stalking the waters of this ancient man-made reservoir known as the Sea of Parakrama.
As long as 2,300 years ago, Sri Lanka began developing a highly sophisticated system of hydraulic engineering, equal to that of ancient Egypt and Persia. The only other Asian civilisation to achieve feats of irrigation anywhere near comparable was Angkor, in Cambodia but that was not until more than a thousand years later.
Today, more than 25,000 reservoirs are dotted about the country, from small reservoirs not much bigger than a pond to huge lakes resembling inland seas.
Sri Lanka’s thousands of reservoirs or tanks, as they are locally known are a source of life not only for birds, fish and wildlife, but for the farmers who depend on them during the dry months in the country’s arid north-central zone.
Some of the main reservoirs in Sri Lanka are, Kala wewa, Parakrama Samudraya or the Sea of Parakrama, Minneriya wewa, Kantale wewa, Yoda wewa and Tissa wewa .