Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu is one of the oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka Located in Northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka. The park lies within the North-central & North-western providences. 26 km north of Puttalam (approximately 180 km north of Colombo) spanning from the northwest coast inland towards the ancient capital of Anuradhapura (50 km to the east of the park). The area of the park is 131693 ha. The unique feature of this National Park comprises of a complex of lakes called willus surrounded by grassy plains, set within scrub jungle. The seemingly endless wilderness whose scrublands, open grasslands and dry mixed evergreen forests are broken up by more than 60 willus and numerous coastal lagoons.In 1905, the designated area in Wilpattu was declared a sanctuary. Thereafter it was upgraded to national park status on February 25, 1938. As the park lies in dry zone rainfall is highly seasonal. Inter-monsoonal rains in March and the northeast monsoon (December – February) are the main sources of rainfall. Mean annual rainfall is about 1000 mm and the mean annual temperature is about 27’C.Wilpattu is also known to be a place of great historical and archaeological interest whose ruins evenly match the spectacle of the wildlife.
The Mahavansa records that in 543 BC Prince Wijaya landed at Kudrimalai Point, married Kuweni and founded the Sinhalese race. Some remains of the residence of Queen Kuweni can be found at Kali willu today.
Flora – There are many willu and lakes at Wilpattu. This is identified as the main topographical feature of the Park. They are often flat and basin like while containing purely rain water. Dry-lowland forests, scrublands, open grasslands and coastal belt, are also found. The western sector of Wilpattu is covered deeply with forests. Many species of flora can be identified at Wilpattu national park. There are three types of vegetation; Littoral vegetation, including Salt grass and low scrub immediately adjacent to the beach and further inland, monsoon forest with tall emergent, such as Palu, and Satin, Milla , Weera , Ebony and Wewarna.
Fauna – A total of 31 species of mammals have been identified at the Wilpattu national park. Mammals threatened with extinction are also there. The elephant , Sloth bear , leopard and water Buffalo are identified as the threatened species living within the Wilpattu National Park. Other wetland bird species as Garganey , Pin tail , Whistling teal , Spoonbill , White ibis, Large white egret , Cattle egret and Purple heron also found at the Wilpattu National Park. At Wilpattu, among the reptiles found the most common are the Monitor , Mugger crocodile Common cobra , Rat snake , Indian python, Pond turtle and the Soft shelled turtle who are resident in the large permanent Villus. Star tortoises roaming on the grasslands at Wilpattu is also a common Scene. Butterflies recorded include the Great Egg fly, Great Orange Tip, Glad-eye Bush brown, Blue Mormon, Common Mormon, Common Rose and Crimson Rose.