The Kaudulla National Park situated 197 km from Colombo was designated as a National Park on 1st April 2002, making it the 15th and newest national park in the Island. The Park borders the ancient Kaudulla tank and it constituted a 66.6 sq.km elephant corridor between Somawathiya Chaithiya National Park and the Minneriya National park. It was reconstructed in 1959 after it had been abandoned for some time.
According to historical records, it was King Mahasen who built this Tank (276 – 303 AD). However, folklore gives a story which is rather interesting as it credits the creation of this tank to King Mahasen’s sister. The story has it that following King Mahasena’s sister’s marriage to a person disapproved by the King, the palace became out of bounds for them and the couple created a small farming village in Kaudulla and built the Kaudulla Tank without the knowledge of the King while King Mahasen devoted himself to build irrigation systems for agricultural purposes and is credited to have built a total of 16 tanks during his reign. Under his development program he built a massive tank in Minneriya that became one of the largest man-made tanks at the time.Read More
Kumana National Park is the foremost bird nesting and breeding grounds in Sri Lanka and it is renowned for a large variety of bird species, particularly its large flocks of migratory waterfowl and wading birds making it an ornithologist’s paradise. It is situated 391 km southeast of Colombo on the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka at an elevation ranging from sea level to 90 m. It was declared a Bird Sanctuary in 1938. Kumana is adjacent to the Yala National Park and was previously known as the Yala East National Park. It was changed to Kumana National Park in September 2006.
The Park spreads over 35,664 hectares bordered on the west by the Kumbukkan Oya and the south-eastern coast runs to the south. There is a mangrove swamp of an area of 200 hectares within the Park that gets inundated with sea water occasionally and this is where many water birds come to nest during May and June. There are also several lakes around which wildlife love to gather. These are Kudawila wewa, Thummulla Wewa and Kotalinda wewa.Read More
The Minneriya National Park is situated 182 km from Colombo in the North Central plains of Sri Lanka between Habarana and Polonnaruwa and is 8890 hectares in extent consisting of a mixture of evergreen forest and scrub trees. The altitude ranges from100m to 885m at the top of Nilgala peak.
The closest major city is Polonnaruwa. It was declared a wild life sanctuary in 1938 and designated as a national park on 12th August 1997. The main purpose of declaring the Minneriya National Park as a protected area was to give protection to the wildlife in the surrounding area and also to serve as the catchment of the Minneriya Tank. The Tank was built by King Mahasen in the third century AD and is of historical importance.
Minneriya National Park is singularly famous for its elephant population and the opportunity to observe these behemoths feeding, bathing, and indulging in frolics is not available anywhere else.Read More
Maduru Oya is the first major project of the Mahaweli Development Project (Hydroelectric power generation and irrigation schemes) as the Maduru Oya Reservoir served as a catchment area. The Maduru Oya National Park was designated on 9th November 1983. It is a national park that provides sanctuary to wildlife especially for elephants and also protects catchments of five other reservoirs. The only human community resident are the ‘Vedda People’ an indigenous ethnic group of less than a thousand people that live in Henanigala which is within the park boundary. The Maduru Oya Park is 288 km north-east of Colombo.
The Veddas can be compared to the Aborgines of Australia and they are said to have descended from King Vijaya and Queen Kuveni and were said to be the original inhabitants of Sri Lanka long before the arrival of the Sinhalese people from India around 543 BC. They have settled around Kandeganwela, Kotatalawa, Dambana before the declaration of Maduru Oya as a National Park.Read More
Wilpattu means “Land of the Lakes” because there are around sixty lakes and tanks throughout the Park. These comprise a unique complex wetlands called “Villu” which are shallow natural lakes among the grassy lands and dense scrub lands, replenished by rains due to the wet weather patterns that prevail over the Park. The annual rainfall in the park is around 1000 mm while the drought period is only during the months of May to early September. The main rainy season is September to December when the north-eastern monsoon opens up.
The Wilpattu National Park is located approximately 180km north of Colombo in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone and is 131,693 hectares in extent making it the largest national park in Sri Lanka at an elevation of 0 to 152 m above sea level. In 1905 this area was designated as a sanctuary and upgraded as a National Park in 1938.
The Wilpattu National Park is renowned for its leopard population which has been placed at around forty nine individual leopards according to a survey conducted by the Wilderness & Wildlife Conservation Trust in 2015.Read More
The Udawalawe National Park is situated 165 km from Colombo and was established on 30th June 1972.The primary purpose of its creation was to afford sanctuary for wild animals that were displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe River. Prior to its designation farmers did their vegetable cultivation in this area, but they were shifted out on a phased out basis. The National Park also protected the catchment (rain-water collection area) of the reservoir and covers an area of 30,821 hectares or 119 sq miles. The Udawalawe National Park is home for many species of water birds and also is an important habitat for elephants which makes it a very popular tourist destination.
The principal residents of the Park are the elephants as they are drawn to the park because of the reservoir and it is estimated that the herd is about 500 strong.Read More
Bundala National Park is situated 245 km southeast of Colombo. It was named as a wildlife sanctuary in 1969 and re-designated as a national park on 4th January 1993. It also has the distinct honor of being the first wetland to be declared as a Ramsar site in Sri Lanka in 2005. In 2006 UNESCO declared it as a biosphere reserve.
What is outstanding and unique about the Bundala National Park is that it is a principal destination of large flocks of migratory birds and is considered to be an outstanding bird area in South Indian and Sri Lankan wetlands. It covers an area of around 3,698 hectares (14.28 sq mi). Bundala National Park is truly a paradise for the keen bird watcher.
Of the vast variety of migratory birds that visit Bundala the greater flamingo takes a special place as each flock consists of over 1,000 individuals arriving from Rann of Kutch of India.There are about 100 species of water birds that inhabit the Bundala wetlands half of them being migrant birds.Read More
The Sinharaja Forest Reserve has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1988. The name “Sinharajah” means Lion King relating to Lion Kingdom. The extent of this Reserve is only 21 km from east to west and around 7km from north to south with an area of 189 sq.km of forest but it has a high concentration of endemic species, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals and even insects. The vegetation is very dense which has saved this forest from commercialized logging. It was in 1840 that the forest became British crown land after which efforts were made to preserve it. It is rather difficult to spot the few animals such as elephants and leopards within the reserve due to the heavy grown of vegetation. The most common of the larger mammals is the endemic purple-faced langur.
As for birds you can see them moving in flocks. 20 of the rainforest species of endemic birds out of Sri Lanka’s 26 species are found here, notably the elusive red-faced malkoha (spotted cuckoo bird), the Sri Lanka blue magpie and the green-billed coucal.Read More
Horton Plains in the Sinhalese Language known as “Maha Eliya Plains” are the headwaters of three major Sri Lankan rivers: the Mahaweli, Kelani and Walawe and is considered the most important watershed in Sri Lanka. An administrative order was issued in 1873 by the British Government “to leave all Montane Forests above 5000 ft undisturbed” on the advice of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker which prevented clearing and felling of forests in the region. The Plains was declared a wildlife sanctuary on 5th December 1969 and was elevated to a National Park on 18th March 1988 because of its biodiversity value. It is situated 32 km from Nuwara Eliya on the southern plateau of the central highlands, at an elevation from around 1200 to 2300 m. Due to the high elevation there is a considerable amount of moisture deposited on the land by fog and clouds that occur always. The swamps, streams and waterfalls are the important wetland habitats of the Park.
Horton Plains have been named after Robert Wilmot Horton who had been the British Governor of Ceylon from 1831 to 1837.Read More
Senanayake Samudraya (Senanayake Ocean) is the largest reservoir in Sri Lanka and it was built by damming the Gal Oya (lake) at Inginiyagala in 1950. The Gal Oya National Park situated 314 km from Colombo at an elevation of varying from 30m to 900m, was established in 1954 and its main purpose is to serve as the main catchment area (collection of rain water) for the Senanayake Samudraya. The main attraction of the Gal Oya National Park is the herd of elephants that can be seen throughout the year. Watching the elephants swimming between the islands dotted around the lake is a unique experience rarely seen anywhere else.
The Park is administered by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. The mountains of the Park are Danigala, Nilgala and Ulpotha. Rain is received during the North-eastern monsoon which averages 1,700 mm per year.
An alternative method of accessing the National Park is by boat across the Senanayake Samudraya from Inginiyagala which will be an exhilarating experience. You will see Bird’s Island in the Reservoir which is a nesting place for birds.Read More
The Yala National Park is located about 300 km from Colombo in the southeastern region of the country and covers an area of 979 sq.km. Yala and the Wilpattu reserves were proclaimed by the government of Sri Lanka on March 23, 1900 as wildlife sanctuaries. Henry Engelbrecht was appointed as the first Park Warden of Yala. It is the second largest national park in Sri Lanka which is also the most visited. The Yala National Park consists of five blocks. Only two were open to the public. These are named as Ruhunu National Park and Kumana National Park the latter being a major bird sanctuary in Sri Lanka. With the elimination of terrorist threats, several other blocks too have been opened to the public. It was when the Flora & Fauna Protection Ordinance was passed into law by D.S. Senanayake, the Minister of Agriculture that Yala became a national park on 1st March 1938.
There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries in the vicinity of Yala of which Lunugamvehera National park is the largest and is situated in the dry region receiving rains mainly during the northeast monsoon. There are also two pilgrim sites within the park in Block 3 called Sithulpahuwa and Magul ViharaRead More