Sri Lanka is known for its diverse wildlife, with many national parks and reserves dedicated to preserving its natural heritage. One national park that stands out is Kumana National Park, also known as Yala East National Park. Located on the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka, Kumana National Park is a relatively lesser-known destination among tourists. Still, its incredible natural beauty and abundance of wildlife make it a must-visit for anyone interested in nature and wildlife.
Kumana National Park covers an area of over 35,000 hectares, and it was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. In 2006, it upgraded to a national park to better protect its flora and fauna. The park has situated around the Kumana Villu, a 200-hectare natural swamp lake fed by the Kumbukkan Oya River. This lake is an important breeding ground for many species of waterbirds, and during the nesting season (from April to July), the park becomes a haven for birdwatchers.
Kumana National Park is home to over 430 species of birds, making it one of the best birdwatching destinations in Sri Lanka. Some of the most notable species found here include the Sri Lankan junglefowl, painted stork, Eurasian spoonbill, lesser adjutant, and the rare black-necked stork. In addition, the park has many residents and migratory bird species, making it a year-round birding destination.
Apart from its avian population, Kumana National Park is also home to various other wildlife species. The park is home to 44 species of mammals, including elephants, leopards, sloth bears, wild boars, and sambar deer. It is also home to several species of reptiles, including crocodiles, monitor lizards, and various species of snakes. The park is also known for its diverse range of butterflies and other insects.
One of the unique features of Kumana National Park is the Kudimbigala Monastery, an ancient Buddhist temple complex that dates back to the 2nd century BC. The temple has situated on a rocky outcrop and provides stunning panoramic views of the surrounding forests and lakes. Visitors can explore the temple complex and admire the intricate rock carvings and ancient ruins.
The best time to visit Kumana National Park is during the dry season, from May to September. During this time, the water levels in the Kumana Villu recede, and the birds and other wildlife species congregate around the remaining water sources. Jeep safaris are the best way to explore the park, and visitors can expect to see various wildlife during their excursion.
Kumana National Park is a hidden gem of Sri Lanka’s wildlife, offering nature and wildlife enthusiasts a unique and unforgettable experience. With its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural heritage, it is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Sri Lanka.