Yala National ParkYala National Park is a national park in Sri Lanka. The reserve covers 979 km², although only the original 141 km² are open to the public. Much of the reserve is parkland, but it also contains jungle, beaches, freshwater lakes and rivers and scrubland. The latter zone is punctuated with enormous rocky outcrops. The range of habitats give rise to a good range of wildlife. Yala has the world’s highest concentration of Leopards, although seeing this largely nocturnal carnivore still requires some luck. There are good numbers of Asian Elephants, Crocodile, Wild Boar, Water Buffalo and Grey langurs amongst other large animals. The open parkland attracts birds of prey such as White-bellied Sea Eagle and the wetlands have Waders, Painted Storks, and the rare Black-necked Stork. Landbirds of course are in abundance, and include Sirkeer Malkoha, Indian Peafowl and Sri Lanka Junglefowl.
Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu National Park (Willu-pattu; Land of Lakes) is a park located on the island of Sri Lanka. The unique feature of this park is the existence of “Willus” (Natural lakes) – Natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. Located in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka. The park is located 30km west Anuradhapura and located 26 km north of Puttalam (approximately 180 km north of Colombo). The park is 131, 693 hectares and ranges from 0 to 152 meters above sea level. Nearly sixty lakes (Willu) and tanks are found spread throughout Wilpattu. Wilpattu is one of the largest and oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is among the top national parks world renowned for its Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) population. The Leopard population in Wilpattu is still not yet known.
There are many types of vegetation to be found in Wilpattu; Littoral vegetation, including Salt grass and low scrub monsoon with tall emergents, such as Palu (Manilkara hexandra), and Satin (Chloroxylon swietenia), Milla (Vitex altissima), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria), Ebony (Disopyros ebenum) and Wewarna (Alseodaphne semecapriflolia).
31 species of mammals have been identified within Wilpattu national park. Mammals that are identified as threatened species living within the Wilpattu National Park are the elephant (Elephas maximus), Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) and water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis). Sambhur, spotted deer, mongoose, mouse and shrew are more of Wilpattu’s residents.
Wasgamuwa National ParkWasgomuwa National Park was declared in 1984 for Bio-diversity conservation. Wasgamuwa is only 145 (225 km) miles from Colombo via Kandy. The Park comprises of 39,322 hectares. Around 150 – 250 Elephants are found in the Park, Wild Buffalo, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, Sambhur, Crocodiles, Leopard, Sloth Bear and other animals of the 23 species of Mammals recorded.143 species of birds (8 endemic), 17 species of reptiles (5 endemic), 17 species of Fishes (2 endemic), 50 species of Butterflies, (9 endemic) are recorded from Wasgomuwa National Park.There are 3 Bungalows within the Park, 2 outside and 7 Campsites at the Wasgomuwa National Park.
UDAWALAWE National ParkUdawalawe National Park is an important national park in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. The reserve covers 306 km² and was established in 1972 to protect the catchment of the Uda Walawe reservoir. The habitat is open parkland, with some mature teak trees along the river. This popular reserve has more than 500 wild Asian Elephants, which are relatively easy to see in this open habitat. Udawalawe also has a dozen or so Leopards, although seeing this largely nocturnal carnivore requires considerable luck. There are good numbers of Crocodiles, Golden Jackals, Water Buffalo and Grey langurs amongst other large animals. The open parkland attracts birds of prey such as White-bellied Sea Eagle,Crested Serpent Eagle, Fish Eagle,Booted eagle, Changeable Hawk Eagle and the wetlands have waders and Painted Storks. Landbirds are in abundance, and include Indian Roller, Indian Peafowl, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Pied Cuckoo
Sinharaja Rain Office
Reserve is a national park in Sri Lanka. It is of international significance and can been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The hilly virgin rain, part of the Sri Lanka lowland rain s ecoregion, was saved from the worst of commercial logging by its inaccessibility, and was designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a World Heritage Site in 1988. The reserve’s name translates as Kingdom of the Lion. The reserve is only 21 km from east to west, and a maximum of 7 km from north to south, but it is a treasure trove of endemic species, including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
Because of the dense vegetation, wildlife is not as easily seen as at dry-zone national parks such as Yala. There are about 3 elephants and the 15 or so leopards are rarely seen. The commonest larger mammal is the endemic Purple-faced Langur.
An interesting phenomenon is that birds tend to move in mixed feeding flocks, invariably led by the fearless Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and the noisy Orange-billed Babbler. Of Sri Lanka’s 26 endemic birds (suranganet), the 20 rain species all occur here, including the elusive Red-faced Malkoha, Green-billed Coucal and Sri Lanka Blue Magpie.
Reptiles include the endemic Green pit viper and Hump-nosed vipers, and there are a large variety of amphibians, especially tree frogs. Invertebrates include the endemic Common Birdwing butterfly and the inevitable leeches.
Minneriya National ParkThis National Park 8889 hectares in extent is famous for its large population of Elephants in herds of 100 to 150 roaming in the jungle and seen in the catchment area of the lake. Entrance is at Ambagaswewa about 6 km from Habarana on the main Habarana Polonnaruwa road. Office is by the side of the main road. Elephants, about 300 wild Elephants, Wild Buffaloes, Wild Boar, Spotted Deer, Sloth Bear, Sambhur, Leopards, Crocodiles, Jackals, 9 kinds of amphibians, 25 kinds of reptiles, 160 species of birds, 26 varieties of fishes, 78 varieties of butterflies are recorded from the Minneriya National Park.
Lahugala National Park
Lahugala National Park is 192 miles from Colombo on the Colombo, Wellawaya, Moneragala and Siyabalanduwa Road. There are 3 tanks (Lahugala, Kitulana and Sengamuwa) within the National Park and all of them are covered with Beru (Opilismanus Compositus) grass favorite among Elephants. Lahugala is connected to Yala East National Park and Galoya National Park and is in an elephant corridor. The main tank Lahugala (also called Mahawewa) is by the side of the main road at 191-mile post is the elephant crossing to the tank, which is 600 acres in extent.
Bird life is also plenty in the tanks and the jungle-specially the birds of prey. Other animals including Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, Sambhur, Leopards and Sloth Bear could also be seen. 2 miles away is the famous temple Magul Maha Vihara connected with King Kavantissa where there is a unique Moonstone and other ruins?
KNUCKLES RANGE RESERVE
The Knuckles Mountain Range lies in central Sri Lanka, north-east of the city of Kandy.
The range takes its name from a series of recumbent folds and peaks in the west of the massif which resemble the knuckles of clenched fist when viewed from certain locations in the Kandy district. Whilst this name was assigned by early British surveyors, the Sinhalese residents have traditionally referred to the area as Dumbara Kanduvetiya meaning mist-laden mountain range (Cooray, 1984). The entire area is characterised by its striking landscapes often robed in thick layers of cloud but in addition to its aesthetic value the range is of great scientific interest. It is a climatic microcosm of the rest of Sri Lanka. The conditions of all the climatic zones in the country are exhibited in the massif. At higher elevations there is a series of isolated cloud s, harbouring a variety of flora and fauna, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Although the range constitutes approximately 0.03% of the island’s total area it is home to a significantly higher proportion of the country’s biodiversity.
The importance of the Knuckles Mountain Range is obtained from several factors. It has a parasitical quality to it because of the mountain peaks, the crystal clear and perennial waterways, cloud s and exquisite fauna and flora. Pregnant with history running into several millennia and a veritable treasure house of cultural heritage, the Knuckles Mountain Range can be considered a as a mirror to the past. Knuckles Mountain Range is unique when comparing with other mountain ranges. Knuckles range is spreed from wet zone to dry zone. Because of that both dry zone and wet zone climate, structures, flora and fauna can be found in this mountain range. Knuckle Range is one of most important water resource in Sri Lanka.
Knuckles Mountain Range is also important due to the historical value it carries and therefore it can be categorized as one of the valuable heritages in Sri Lanka. The story of Knuckles (Dumbara Hill) goes back into prehistoric periods. It is said that in ancient times it was referred to as ‘Giri Divaina’ and as ‘Malaya Rata’ and there is archaeological evidence that speaks of ancient Yaksha settlement in the area. People believe that the name ‘Lanka’ is derived which much folklore has gathered over the centuries. The Knuckles Mountain Range is an invariable referent in any salutary appreciation of the last kingdom of the Sinhala Kanda Udarata.
WATER RESOURCESSince the main risen in opposition to both the Southwest and Northwest Monsoons, the area enjoys bountiful rainfalls. For this and other reasons, the Knuckles Mountain Range is counted among the richer of the upper watersheds in the country. In fact from these hills flow the richer of the tributaries to the Mahaweli River. There are three main rivers called the Hulu Ganga, the Heen Ganga, the Kalu Ganga and the Thelgamu oya which begin from Knuckles Mountain Range. And there are a number of breathtaking waterfalls and small rivers, which can be found in this area.
FLORA & FAUNAKnuckles Range has a high biodiversity in flora and fauna. Most of them are endemic not only to Sri Lanka but also to Knuckles Range. There are more than five vegetation types in Knuckles Range. They are semi evergreen, sub mountain , mountain , grass lands, reverine and pigmy . Semi evergreen s can be seen in the lower elevation (below 700m) in the Knuckles Mountain Range. These contains large trees. Sub mountain s are in between lowlands and highlands. In knuckles Range some of some of sub mountain areas are covered from bamboos. That is the reason for name knuckles range as Batadadu Kanda also. Mountain s can be found in high mountain peaks such as Kalupahana and Gomaniyagala. Grasslands can be found in many areas where open to wind. Pitawala Pathana is unique grassland with high bio diversity. Pigmy s can be found in Selevakanda area.
HORTON PLAINS NATIONAL PARK
20 miles (32 km) from Nuwara Eliya via Ambewela and Pattipola, is the Horton Plains only 3160 hectares in extent. Known to Sri Lankans as Mahaeliya, it became Horton Plains after Sir Robert Horton, British Governor from 1831- 1837. Horton Plains became a Nature Reserve in 1969 and upgraded as a National Park in 1988 due to its unique watershed and bio-diversity values of the “Cloud Reserve”.
Its flora has high level of endemism. The hills are covered with diverse wet low evergreen with even large trees grown flattened to the ground on the higher windswept slopes.
Horton Plains harbours 52 species of resident birds and 11 species of migrant birds. More then 2,000 to 3,000 Sambhur, Bear Monkey, Leopard, Barking Deer, Giant Squirrel, Fishing Cat, Wild Boar and Hares roam in the s and grasslands but only seldom they could be seen other than the Sambhur in the evening and morning.
For accommodation Ginihiriya Bungalow (Anderson Lodge) with 4 DBL rooms and 2 separate dormitories (Vana Nivahana) serve for groups. Two escarpments -“World’s End” and “Little World’s End” falling from the Horton Plains 1000 feet and 3000 feet respectively, to the land below and the Baker’s Falls are places you should visit.
This is the only National Park where visitors could walk on their own on the designated tracks.
GAL OYA NATIONAL PARK
Gal Oya national park is 230 miles on the Colombo, Kandy, Mahiyangana, Mahaoya and Ampara road, which is the shortest out of the 3 routes. This National Park declared in 1954 is 25,900 hectares in extent and covers most of the catchment area of the Senanayake Samudra. The areas to visit by Jeep are limited from Ali-wanguwa to Kossapola and from Mullegama to Kebellabokka. The main method of travel is by boat from the Bund of the reservoir to observe wild animals and birds in the open areas along the lake.
Permits and Trackers could be obtained from the Wild Life Office at Inginiyagala close to the Lake. (Check the availability of the boat before sending tourists). Wild Elephants, Wild Buffalo, Wild Boar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Sambhur, are the main animals. Leopard and Sloth Bear are rare and difficult to see. Many species of birds, specially nesting birds on the dead trees in the water could be seen.
Bundala National Park
An area of 6216 hectares is one of the 3 “RAMSAR” approved Wetland Reserves in Sri Lanka.(the other two are Annaiwilandawa beyond Chilaw and Madhu Ganga Reserve at Balapitiya) that hosts over 20,000 shorebirds, during the period August to April.
The Park consists of lagoons and inter-tidal mud flats where wintering birds rest and feed, golden sandy beaches and sand dunes where sea turtles nest and the thorny scrub-land where elephant, spotted deer, wild buffalo, wild boar, crocodiles and peacocks roam. More than 150 species (including 45 species of “Waders”) of resident and migrant birds could be seen in this Park.
Thousands of Greater / Lesser Flamingoes, Spot-billed Pelicans, Spoonbills, Ducks, Indian Shags, Cormorants, Stone Plover and various species of Herons are among the large flocks found here.
Pathirajawela, within the Bundala National Park, is a site where the earliest evidence of the pre-historic man is found in the Island.