About Udawalawe

Location:Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces | Sri Lanka
Nearest City: Embilipitiya
Nearest Airport: Bandaranayake Airport | Sri Lanka
Coordinates: 6°26′18″N 80°53′18″E
Area: 308.21 km2 (119.00 sq mi)
Established: June 30, 1972
Governing Body: Department of Wildlife Conservation
Country: Sri Lanka | Asia
Status: Open
Most Popular: Wildlife | Safari

Udawalawe Map

Prior to the establishment of the national park, the land was used for shifting cultivation (chena farming). Once the national park was established, the farmers were gradually removed. Colombo is 165 kilometers (103 miles) away from the park. Waterbirds and Sri Lankan elephants use Udawalawe as a breeding ground. It is a popular tourist destination and the country’s third most visited park.

“Udawalawe National Park is a national park in Sri Lanka. The reserve, which spans 30,821 hectares (119.00 square miles), was established on June 30, 1972. It is a popular tourist destination and the country’s third most visited park.”

Physical Features

Udawalawe is located on the dividing line between Sri Lanka’s wet and dry zones. The topography is dominated by plains, though there are some mountainous areas. The park’s northern boundary includes the Kalthota Range and Diyawini Falls, as well as the outcrops of Bambaragala and Reminikotha. The park receives 1,500 millimeters (59 in) of rain per year, the majority of which falls between October and January and March and May. The average annual temperature is around 27–28 °C (81–82 °F), with relative humidity ranging from 70% to 83 %. The predominant soil type is well-drained reddish-brown soil, with poorly drained low humic grey soils found in the valley bottoms. The beds of watercourses are mostly formed by alluvial soils.

Udawalawe is located on the dividing line between Sri Lanka’s wet and dry zones. Topography is dominated by plains, though there are some mountainous areas. The park receives 1,500 millimeters (59 in) of rain per year, with relative humidity ranging from 70% to 83%.”

Ecology

The reservoir’s surroundings include marshes, the Walawe River and its tributaries, forests, and grasslands. The presence of dead trees in the reservoir serves as a visual reminder of the extent of forest cover prior to the construction of the Udawalawe Dam. The reservoir contains green algae such as Pediastrum and Scenedesmus spp., as well as blue green algae such as Microsystis. Former chena farming practices resulted in an abundance of open grassland. Beyond the park’s southern boundary, below the dam, there is a teak plantation that was planted before the park was established. The park has been home to 94 plants, 21 fish, 12 amphibians, 33 reptiles, 184 birds (33 of which are migratory), and 43 mammals. In addition, among the invertebrates found in Udawalawe are 135 species of butterflies.

“The park has been home to 94 plants, 21 fish, 12 amphibians, 33 reptiles, 184 birds (33 of which are migratory), and 43 mammals.”

Flora

Endangered floral species found in the park include Hopea cordifolia, Memecylon petiolatum, Erythroxylon zeylanicum, and Jasminum angustifolium. Along the river, Terminalia arjuna and Hopea cordifolia can be found. Elephants rely heavily on Panicum maximum and Imperata cylindrica for food. Taller trees include Chloroxylon swietenia, Berrya cordifolia, Diospyros ebenum, Adina cordifolia, Vitex pinnata, Schleichera oleosa, and Diospyros ovalifolia. Plants with medicinal value found in the forest include Terminalia bellirica and Phyllanthus emblica. The grasslands are dominated by Cymbopogon confertiflorus grass species and Grewia tiliifolia bushes.

“Plants with medicinal value found in the forest include Terminalia bellirica and Phyllanthus emblica. Elephants rely heavily on Panicum maximum and Imperata cylindrica for food. The grasslands are dominated by Cymbopogon confertiflorus grass species.”

Fauna

Mammals

Udawalawe is an important habitat for Sri Lankan elephants, which are difficult to see in their natural habitats. Because of the Udawalawe reservoir, many elephants are drawn to the park, and a herd of about 250 elephants is thought to be permanently resident. The Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home was founded in 1995 to care for abandoned elephant calves within the park. When the calves were old enough to fend for themselves, nine calves were released in the park on two occasions in 1998 and 2000, followed by another eight calves in 2002.

The rusty-spotted cat, fishing cat, and Sri Lankan leopard are all members of the Felidae family, which can be found in Udawalawe. Because of its scarcity, the Sri Lankan sloth bear is rarely seen. Other mammal species include Sri Lankan sambar deer, Sri Lankan axis deer, Indian muntjac, Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain, wild boar, and water buffalo. The park is also home to the golden jackal, Asian palm civet, toque macaque, tufted grey langur, and Indian hare. A 1989 study discovered that there are a large number of golden palm civets in the forests of Udawalawe. The park has also been home to five different species of mice. The endemic Ceylon spiny mouse, previously only found in Yala National Park, was discovered in Udawalawe in 1989. The national park also has Indian bush rat and three species of mongoose.

“Udawalawe is an important habitat for Sri Lankan elephants. A herd of about 250 elephants is thought to be permanently resident. The park is also home to the golden jackal, Asian palm civet, toque macaque, tufted grey langur, and Indian hare.”

Birds

Udawalawe is also a great place to go bird watching. Among the breeding resident birds are endemics such as the Sri Lanka spurfowl, red-faced malkoha, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, brown-capped babbler, and Sri Lanka junglefowl. Rare migrants include the white wagtail and the black-capped kingfisher. Cormorants, spot-billed pelicans, Asian openbills, painted storks, black-headed ibises, and Eurasian spoonbills are among the water birds that visit the reservoir.

Birds of prey such as the white-bellied sea eagle, crested serpent-eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, booted eagle, and changeable hawk-eagle are drawn to the open parkland. Landbirds abound, including the Indian roller, Indian peafowl, Malabar pied hornbill, and pied cuckoo.

Reptiles and fish

The park is home to Oriental garden lizards, painted-lip lizards, mugger crocodiles, Asian water monitors, Bengal monitors, and 30 different snake species. Garra ceylonensis is an endemic fish found in the park. Important food fish species found in the reservoir include introduced Oreochromis spp., giant gourami, catla, and rohu.

Conservation

Reduced water levels in the Walawe River are being caused by the clearing of natural forests and the planting of monospecies cultures such as pine and eucalyptus. Human settlement encroachment, poaching, illegal logging, gem mining, overgrazing, and chena farming are all major threats to the park. Lantana camara and Phyllanthus polyphyllus are invasive weeds that harm elephant food plants. There have been reports of elephants being shot with illegal muzzleloader guns.

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