Wasgamuwa National Park
WASGAMUWA NATIONAL PARK located in the districts of Matale and Polonnaruwa stretches an impressive 36,948 hectares. Bounded by the rivers Mahaweli from the eastern boundary, Amban from the western and northern boundaries, Wasgamuwa National Park provides diverse micro habitats for fauna and flora. A mix of riverine forest, lowland dry evergreen forest, intermediate dry mixed evergreen forest are to be seen around the park while plentiful grasslands provide a rich feeding ground for elephants, some of which migrate from the Minneriya-Giritale Sanctuary to the north and the Flood Plains National Park to the north east. It is on these grasslands and at the river’s edge where you may be rewarded with the greatest number of animal sightings.
This history of the Wasgamuwa National Park began in 1907 when the area was declared a game sanctuary. Then in 1938 it was converted into a Strict Nature Reserve, and an adjoining section was declared an Intermediate Zone in 1945. With the clearing of vast stretches of forest in the 1970s to make way for the Mahaweli development scheme, the area became a vital refuge for wildlife. Consequently the two conservation areas, along with additional land, were brought together as one and declared a national park in 1984.There is historical evidence to that this area had been inhabited by man during the ancient Sinhala kingdoms in BC. Giant canal of kalinga (Kalinga Yodha Ela) built in the reign by king Parakramabahu in the 12th century while the remains of Malagamuwa, Wilmitiya, Wasgamuwa and Dasthota tanks bear witness to the past prosperity of the area. Kalinga island (Kalinga Duwa) too is an interesting place to visit. Kadurupitiya, Dagoda, Baduruwayaya Buddha Statue, Malagamuwa stone pillars and other ruins also bear witness to the past glory of the area.
Flora – The vegetation consists of primary forests, secondary forests, riverine forests, & also comprises grasslands and thorn scrubs and many valuable species of trees as park is almost surrounded by Mahaweli & Amban Rivers, riverine forest area is fairly large. Common trees include weera , palu , va , ehela or Indian laburnum , burutha or satinwood , welang or fishing rod tree , milla and kaluwara or ebony. The riverine forest of the park, however, is dominated by kumbuk . Other prevalent species include ovila , mi or honey tree and thimbiri .
Fauna – 23 species of mammal have been recorded at Wasgamuwa. Apart from the population of around 150 elephants , other species present are the Sri Lanka leopard , Sri Lanka sloth bear , Sri Lanka jackal , water buffalo , Indian wild boar, Sri Lanka spotted deer , barking deer , Sri Lanka sambur , Indian fishing cat , and slender loris . There are also water Monitors and crocodiles roaming very often in the water holes within the park. 143 species of birds reported to be found in this park, which includes the Red faced Malkoha & Yellow fronted Barbet, the Sri lanka Jungle fowl, and Sri Lanka Spur Fowl,, there is also the Sri lanka Frogmouth, Which Appears to have no beak.Reptiles35 species have been recorded, seven of which are endemic. They include the water monitor or kabaragoya , Sri Lanka swamp crocodile or kimbula , Sri Lanka estuarine crocodile, and the Sr Lanka python or pimbura . Endemic species include the red-lipped lizard and Earle’s lizard.