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Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park is a national park on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces in Sri Lanka. The Park has created a preserve for homeless wild animals by constructing this reservoir on the Walawe River and saving the reservoir’s catchment. The reserve covered 30,821 hectares (119.00 sq mi) of land and was established on 30 June 1972.

Before the national Park’s designation, used the site for shifting cultivation. Once the Park was declared, they gradually removed the farmers. It is 165 kilometers (103 mi) from Colombo.

 Udawalawe is an essential habitat for water birds and Sri Lankan elephants. It is a famous tourist destination and the third-most destination in the country. What’s exclusive is this isn’t a zoo. The elephants are wild and roam free. The tribe includes males, females, and cute babies. 

Park lies on the boundary of Sri Lanka’s wet and dry areas. Plains dominate the topography, though there are also some mountainous sides. Diyawini Falls and the Kalthota Range are in the north of the Park, and the outcrops of Bambaragala and Reminikotha lie within them. It has a yearly rainfall of 1,500 millimeters (59 in), most of which falls from October to January and March to May. The annual average temperature is about 27–28 °C (81–82 °F), while relative humidity varies from 70% to 83%. Well-drained reddish-brown soil is the predominant soil type, with poorly drained low humic grey soils encountered in the valley bottoms. Mainly alluvial soils form the beds of water courses.

This reservoir’s habitat includes marshes, the Walawe river, tributaries, forests, and grasslands. 

Dead trees standing in the pool are visual reminders of the extent of jungle cover before the construction of the Udawalawe Dam. Incorporating Pediastrum, green algae, Scenedesmus spp., and blue-green algae species, such as Microsystems, occur in the reservoir. Open grassland areas are abundant due to former Chena farming practices. There is plantation teak beyond the southern boundary, below the dam, planted before the park declaration. Species noted from the Park include 94 plants, 21 fish, 12 amphibians, 33 reptiles, 184 birds (33 immigratory), and 43 mammals. Additionally, 135 species of butterflies are through the invertebrates encountered in Udawalawe.

Hope Cordifolia, Memecylon petrolatum, Erythroxylon Zeylanicum, and Jasminum Angustifolium are endemic flowers recorded from the Park. Panicum maximum and Imperata cylindrical are essential food sources for elephants.

 Chloroxylon swietenia, Berryacordifolia, Diospyros ebenum, Adinacordifolia, Vitexpinnata, Schleicheraoleosa, and Diospyrosovalifolia are the common taller trees. 

Terminaliabellirica and Phyllanthus Emblica are plants of medicinal value found in the forest. Cymbopogonconfertiflorus grass species and Grewia Tiliifolia bushes are common in the grasslands.

Udawalawe Park is capable of sustaining a massive herd of Sri Lankan elephants.

It is a critical habitat for Sri Lankan elephants, which are relatively hard to see in their open habitats. You won’t be able to travel all of the herd in one day, as they will be spread all over the National Park. They believe to be residents with a pack of around 250 elephants.

You will most likely view around 10-40 elephants on your safari. If it’s a scorching day, you will see most of them at the reservoir within the Park. Feeding the elephants in the Park with the food you carry will make them susceptible to diseases, so it can’t recommend. Due to the noisy environment caused by the presence of many people, some elephants run away. This Elephant Transit Home was founded in 1995 to look after abandoned elephant calves within the Park. On two occasions in 1998 and 2000, into the grove, with eight more, old enough to fend for themselves, released nine cubs in 2002. The fishing cat, rusty-spotted cat, and Sri Lankan leopard are members of the family Felidae in Udawalawe. The Sri Lankan sloth bear has seldom seen because of its rareness. Sri Lankan axis deer, Sri Lankan sambar deer, Indian muntjac, Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain, wild boar, and water buffalo are other mammal species. Asian palm civet, Golden jackal, Indian hare, tufted grey langur, and toque macaque also inhabit the Park. A study conducted in 1989 encountered that considerable numbers of golden palm civets inhabit the jungles of Udawalawe. Five species of mice also have been recorded from Udawalawe Park. The endemic Ceylon spiny mouse, known from Yala National Park, was recorded in Udawalawe in 1989. The National Park also recorded three mongoose and Indian bush rats.

Painted storks are among the most water birds that immigrate to the Park.

It is also the best birdwatching place. Endemics such as Sri Lanka grey hornbill, red-faced malkoha, Sri Lanka spurfowl, brown-capped babbler, and Sri Lanka junglefowl are the breeding inmate birds. White wagtail and black-capped kingfisher are uncommon migrants. Various water birds visit the reservoir, including cormorants, the spot-billed pelican, Asian openbill, painted stork, black-headed ibis, and Eurasian spoonbill. 

The open parkland dilates birds of prey such as the white-bellied sea eagle, crested serpent-eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, booted eagle, and changeable hawk-eagle. Landbirds are abundant, including Indian roller, Indian peafowl, Malabar pied hornbill, and pied cuckoo.

Bengal monitors, painted-lip lizards, mugger crocodiles, Asian water monitors, Oriental garden lizards, and 30 species of snake encountered in the Park. Garraceylonensis is an endemic fish species recorded in the Park. Introduced Oreochromis spp., huge gourami, Catla, and rohu are important food fish species found in the reservoir.

Clearing natural woods and planting monospecies cultures such as pine and eucalyptus are causing reduced water levels in the Walawe river. Encroachment by illegal logging, poaching, human settlements, Chena farming, overgrazing, and gem mining are primary threats to the Park.   Phyllanthus Polyphyllus and Lantana Camara are invasive weeds affecting the food plants of the elephants. Reported the occasions of elephants shot with illegal muzzleloader guns.

From 1994 to 2001, some 423,000 people traveled to the Park, 20% foreigners.


Useful Information

  • The best time to visit here is in the morning. Then the sun is low. And at that time, the young elephants also come to eat. Evenings are also good to visit as they come to drink the water due to the heat. However, you can go whenever you like.

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