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  • Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe

Located on the boundary of Sri Lanka's wet and dry zones, Udawalawe National Park, is one of the best places in the world to see wild elephants. With approximately 400 elephants residing within the area of 31,000 hectares, it is not unusual to see big herds gathering to feed and bath by the waterholes.

In addition to this main attraction, Udawalawe is home to many water buffalo, water monitor lizards, sambar deer and monkeys. The bird enthusiasts shall be in their own winged paradise with not only the variety, but the quantity of bird species in the park.

Udawalawe, with its fascinating wildlife, history and culture, offers an array of historical sites and natural wonders, guaranteed to satisfy even the most seasoned traveler.

Originally, the national park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir in 1972. The reservoir, surrounded by open plains and foothills, is continuously replenished by River Walawe that draws its waters from the central highlands. The fringes of the reservoir and its creeks are filled with weather-bleached skeletons of thousands of jungle trees, and the area is about to become an important breeding place for aquatic birds.

 

Climate and vegetation in Udawalawe

Udawalawe National Park lies on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces, between Sri Lanka's wet and dry zones, forming of marshes, forests and grasslands. The park has an annual rainfall of 1,500 millimetres, most of which falls during the months of October to January and March to May, and the average temperature is about 29°C.

Originally the region was forested, but as a result of former chena farming practices, plains of open grassland are abundant. Though, there are also some mountainous areas. The Kalthota Range and Diyawini Falls are in the north of the park, and the outcrops of Bambaragala and Reminikotha lie within it.

Species of trees include satin (Chloroxylon swietenia), halmilla (Berrya cordifolia), ebony (Diospyros ebenum) ehala (Cassia fistula), kolon (Adina cordifolia ), milla (Vitex pinnata), kon (Schleichera oleosa), kunumella (Diospyros ovalifolia) and lunumidella ( Melia dubia ). In the riverine forests, kumbuk (Terminalia arjuna) and the endemic mandorang (Hopea cordifolia) are dominant. Scrubs are dominated by damaniya (Grewia tiliaefolia), and in savanna grasslands mana (Cymbogon confertiflorus), illuk (Imperata cylindrical) and pogon (Pennisetum olystachyon) are common.

 

Wildlife in Udawalawe

This park is very famous for the Elephants (Elephas maximus). There are herds of elephant feeding in the grasslands. The Sambar deer (Carvus unicolor), Spotted deer (Carvus axis), Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak), wild boar (Sus scrofa) and water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) are re-establishing themselves. Other mammals include: toque macaque (Maccaca sinica) common langur (Presbytis entellus), jackal (Canis aureus), toddy cat (Paradoxurus hermaphroditis), leopard ( Panthera pardus) and black- napped hare (Lepus nigricollis) and small Indian civet cat (Viverricula indica), endemic golden palm civet cat (Paradoxurus zeylonensis), three species of mongoose (Herpestes fuscus), (H. smithi) and (H. vitticollis), an endemic shrew (Suncus sp.), gerbil (Tatera sp.), rat (Rattus rattus kandianus, soft-furred rat (Millardia meltada) and Indian bush rat (Golunda elliotti).

The avifauna includes large numbers of warblers (Prinia spp.), along with many usual lowland birds of forested areas, and a variety of raptors. Water birds found by the reservoir include some rare visitors such as Indian cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis ) and osprey (Pandion haliaetus). Notable endemic species are Sri Lanka spurfowl (Galloperdix bicalcarata ), Sri Lanka junglefowl (Gallus lafayetti), Malabar pied hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus), endemic gray hornbill (Tockus griseus) and brown-capped babbler (Pellorneum fuscocapillum).

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