Udawalawe National Park
Uda Walwe National Park, is the best place in Asia to see herds of Asian Elephants in the wild. Uda Walawe National Park, is one of Sri Lanka’s Dry-Zone Dry Evergreen Forests that harbors one of Asia’a largest & most viable Asian elephant populations. The 30,821ha Park was set up in the year 1972 to protect the catchments area of the man-made Rainwater Reservoir which is at the south end of the River Walwe. The vital habitats that make up this land area include open parkland, grassland and thorn scrub aside riverbanks that are home to many valuable and much sought-after species of trees. Udawalawe was declared a national park in 1972.Since then it has become very popular, especially with Foreigners. The Udawalawe reservoir is named after the Walawe Ganga, the river that feeds it. This reservoir was created as part of the massive Mahaweli development scheme and irrigates some 25,000 hectares of land south of the dam, which is 4 kilometres long. The park has the dual purpose of protecting the catchment area of the reservoir and providing a refuge for wildlife – particularly elephants – displaced by the opening up of land for agriculture in the region.
FloraUdawalawe is well recognized for its rich biodiversity,its flora given to a high level of endemism. Park consists of dry lowland forest, revering forest, thorny scrublands and grasslands. One special attraction of the park is the Udawalawe reservoir and the Walawe River which flows through the park. Notable tree species include satinwood, halmilla or Trincomalee wood – which was once exported in quantity to India for boat-making , in the revering forest of the park it is kumbuk that dominates, while in the scrubland, damaniya is the main species.FaunaUdawalawe National Park is world famous for its large elephant populations. In this park one can observe elephants at any given time of the day. Apart from the 500 elephants that live in the park, other mammals that can be seen include the Sri Lanka sambhur , Sri Lanka spotted deer, Indian wild boar , toque monkey , Sri Lanka jackal , Sri Lanka sloth bear , Sri Lanka leopard , Sri Lanka small civet-cat , the common Indian palm-cat , and the golden palm-cat. Of these, bear and leopard are seen only occasionally.
The reservoir attracts a wide range of aquatic birds, including majestic Indian darters, egrets, cormorants, herons, kingfishers, comical black-winged stilt. Endemic species include Sri Lanka spurfowl, the Sri Lanka jungle fowl, the Malabar pied hornbill, rare red-faced malkoha. You ould as well spot the lesser adjunct, Sri Lanka’s largest & ugliest bird, standing at well over a meter tall. Birds gather in large numbers around the tanks Magam, Habartu, Kiri ibban, Pulgaswewa, Timbirimankada. Among the raptors (birds of prey) are brahminy, black-winged kites, crested serpent, hawk, fish eagles, & the magnificent white-bellied sea eagle.