Location: North Central Province | Sri Lanka
Nearest City: Polonnaruwa
Nearest Airport: Bandaranayake Airport
Coordinates: 7.91813°N 81.08665°E
Area: 67.0 sq mi
Governing Body: Department of Wildlife Conservation
Country: Sri Lanka | South Asia
Status: Open
Most Popular: Elephants


Where is It?

Flood Plains National Park is one of four national parks designated as part of the Mahaweli River development project. On August 7, 1984, the park was established. The national park is located along the Mahaweli river plain and is a popular feeding ground for elephants. The dense vegetation in the villus attracts a huge number of grazing animals and birds, resulting in a larger yearly biomass than any other form of habitat in the Mahaweli Development Project area.
The floodplains provide a vital habitat for Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) as well as a corridor allowing elephants from Wasgomuwa and Somawathiya Chaitiya to migrate between the two parks. Fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus), jungle cat (Felis chaus), rusty-spotted cat (Felis rubiginosus), and wild pig (Sus scrofa) are also present, as are water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) and numerous deer species. The villus supports a significant population of reptiles, which is appealing to reptile enthusiasts.
The park is critical for the long-term survival of elephants in the Mahaweli basin. Flood Plains, together with neighboring Somawathiya National Park, provides a haven for a diverse range of resident and migratory waterfowl. Although the Mahaweli region has an overall system plan for protected areas, there is no management plan in place, particularly for Flood Plains National Park. The northern half of the park is managed as part of Somawathiya National Park, while the southern half is managed as part of Wasgamuwa National Park. The construction of a dam on the Mahaweli River will eventually limit water flow, reducing the size and duration of downstream flooding. This significant alteration in the villus’ water management would transform the rich grasslands into poor quality grazing grounds, which will be hazardous to wildlife. The park was added to the 1989 IUCN/CNNPA list of endangered protected areas in the world because its integrity was significantly threatened by overexploitation of its resources. Elephants have died after falling into the holes made by the hundreds of kilns. Harmful activities were to be phased out or carefully controlled to allow for recovery. Political and security issues in the region have hampered effective management. The drying of villus has aided the growth of invasive alien species such as Eichhornia crassipes, Xanthium indicum, and Salvinia molesta, which have harmed native grasses and other aquatic plants, resulting in food loss for native herbivores.

Wildlife You Might See

Wild Species knowledge is quite sparse, and therefore represents a significant opportunity for any future researcher to investigate the area and conduct ecological research in order to determine the presence of wild species in the area. If anyone is interested, please share your findings with us so that we may incorporate them into this page in order to educate our future generation.


Physical Features

Around 27 °c (81 °f) and mean rainfall is around 1,650 millimeters (65 inches)


The villus’ abundant vegetation attracts a significant number of herbivores and aves and sustains more yearly biomass than any other type of habitat within the accelerated Mahaweli Development Project area. The flood plains have an abundance of water and meadows, making it a crucial habitat for elephants (elephas maximus). The park’s elephant population was estimated to be between 50 and 100 in 2007.  Fishing cat felis viverrinus, jungle cat felis chaus, rusty-spotted cat felis rubiginosa, jackal canis aureus, wild boar sus scrofa, Indian muntjac muntiacus muntjak, sambar cervix unicolor, spotted deer c. Axis, and water buffalo bubalus bubalis are also common mammals.  The European otter lutra lutra, the Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain moschiola meminna, and the leopard panthera pardus have also been observed.

The flood plains are particularly notable for the diversity and richness of their avifauna, especially migrant birds. The floodplains are home to the uncommon species leptoptilos javanicus and a diversity of other species. It is believed that 75 species spend the winter in the flood plain marshes. Marsh sandpiper tringa stagnatilis, wood sandpiper t. Glareola, asiatic golden plover pluvialis dominica, garganey anas querquedula, osprey pandion haliaetus, and black-tailed godwit limosa limosa are common residents. The eastern giant egret is a common inhabitant. Cattle egret bubulcus ibis, egreta alba the painted stork pond heron, ibis leucocephala ardeola grayii, sometimes known as the eastern grey heron pheasant-tailed jacana, ardea cinerea purple coot, hydrophasianus chirurgus indian darter, porphyrio porphyrio anhinga rufa, phalacrocorax niger (small cormorant), and indian shag p. Fuscicollis, p. Carbo sinensis, and the brahminy kite haliastur indus, or painted snipe rostratula benghalensis, himantopus himantopus (black-winged stilt), and vanellus indicus (red-wattled lapwing).

Exotic species (e.g., Oreochromis spp., Osphronemus goramy) dominate the freshwater fish, however endemic species such as Esomus thermoicos, Garra ceylonensis, and Schistura notostigma have also been recorded from the park. Climbing perch Anabas testudineus, snakeheads Ophiocephalus stratus and O. parulius, Labeo sp., branded etroplus Etroplus suratensis, butter catfish Ompok bimaculatus, and the invasive tilapia Tilapia mossambica are all important villus fish species. The marshy ecosystem is home to a diverse population of reptiles, including natricine watersnakes, mugger crocodiles, and estuary crocodiles, Crocodylus porosus. Other water reptiles mentioned include the Indian black turtle Melanochelys trijuga and the Indian flap-shelled turtle Lissemys punctata.


The Mahaweli Forest Floodplains are made up of a variety of natural zones, including river channels, riverine marshes, villus, seasonally flooded grasslands, and swamp forests. The Flood Plain in general, and the associated villus in particular, feature a significant diversity of plant species, both tiny and large. There are 231 plant species documented from the handapan and bendiya villus and marsh forests, which cover 796 hectares (3.07 square miles) within the Mahaweli river floodplain. Flooding and saturated soil inhibit tree growth while promoting the growth of water-tolerant grasses and aquatic plants. The villus’ vegetation has a characteristic zonation pattern, with creeping grasses such as Cynodon dactylon and essentially terrestrial annual plants on the borders. Further in, there are hydrophytic plants and grasses; floating plants such as aponogeton crispum, a. Natans, and nymphoides spp. Coexist with nelumbo nucifera in deeper water, as does an association of manel nymphaea.

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