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Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park is situated in the southeast part of the country in the semi arid zone. Park belongs to Southern Province. The park area is 6,216 hectares.

The park was initially established as a Sanctuary in 1969. Due to its significant role as a wintering site for migratory birds this was declared as RAMSAR wetland in 1990.

As Bundala National Park is located in semi arid zone, rainfall is highly seasonal. Main source of rainfall is Northeast monsoons (December – February). Mean Annual Rainfall: 900 – 1300 mm. Area is experiencing prolong drought from May to October. Mean annual Temperature 27o C. Daily temperature above 30oC is not uncommon.

Bundala National Park is mainly consist of 4 brackish lagoons, salt pans, marshes, thorny scrub lands, sand dunes, dry mixed ever green forests and dry grass lands.

Scrublands mainly consist of Andara (Dichrostachys cinerea), Eraminiya (Ziziphus sp.), Karamba (Carrisa spinarum). However the invasive species such as Prosopis juliflora and Opuntia delenii are spreading in the grasslands and scrublands.

Forest is covered by typical dominants of Dry mixed ever green forests Palu (Manilkara hexandra), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria) and Mallithan (Salvadora persica). Maila (Bauhinia racemosa) and diwul (Limonia acidissima) are also frequently seen.

Park provides the shelter for Elephant, Spotted Dear, Wild Boar, Black naped hare, Grey & Ruddy mongoose, toque macaque, Grey Langur & porcupine, jackal and fishing & Rusty Spotted cats. This park is also well known for sightings of estuarine crocodile and mugger crocodile.

The main attraction of the Bundala is the birdlife, especially waders. There are both resident and migratory species. Greater Flamingo, Spot-billed Pelican, Lesser Adjutant and Black-necked Stork are among the large birds. Large flocks of terns, gulls, sand-pipers, snipes, teals, cormorants, egrets and many more water birds are commonly seen.

Habarana Eco Park

Elephants are the main attraction in Habarana Eco Park on the way to the north. The Tank, forest and the peaceful environment of Habarana is appreciated by any tourist who enjoys wild life and elephant safaris, birds and nature. Best season to visit this park is between May and October where you have a better chance to see number small wild elephant herds. The road net work inside the park is not as develop to the main national parks like Yala, Minneriya or Udawalwe therefore be ready to experience a ruff jeep ride when you visit this park.

Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains National Park is in the highlands of the country belonging to central province. This is the highest plateau in the country. This was declared as a National Park in 1988. The park area is 3160 hectare.

The second & third highest mountains of the country namely Kirigalpotta & Thotupola respectively are found within the borders of the park. Park receives rainfall from both northeast & southwest monsoons as well as inter-monsoonal rains. Frequently occurring mist and clouds are one main source of precipitation. With annual precipitation of about 5000mm Horton Plains is the most important catchments area of the country. Three major rivers of the country start from this area namely Kelani, Walawe & the Mahaweli the longest river of the country. There is a slight dry period between January to March. Due to altitude the area is comparatively cold. Mean annual temperature is around 15?C and during colder months it will go down further where it is cold enough to create ground frost.

Park consists of mountain cloud forests embedded in wet mountain grasslands. Horton Plains has rich biodiversity. Most of the fauna and flora found in the park are endemic and furthermore some of them are confined to highlands of the island.

Forests are dominated by Calophyllum sp. & Syzygium sp. Giant tree fern Cyathea sp. and colourful Rhododrendron are among the main attractions. Park is also famous for beautiful flowers of endemic Nellu (Strobilanthes sp.), Bovitiya (Osbeckia sp.), Binara (Exacum trinervium) and many other orchid species. Endemic dwarf Bamboo (Arundinaria densifolia) dominates the edges of the river while Chrysopogon zeylanicum and Garnotia mutica dominate the grasslands.

Though this was one of the best elephant habitats in the country they are locally extinct due to poaching & sports hunting occurred during the British colonial era. Leopard and Sambhur & wild boar are the most common large mammals in Horton Plains. Endemic Bear Monkey, Rusty- Spotted and Fishing cats, Otter, Black napped hare and Giant Squirrel are among other mammals. Many species of endemic & threatened rats & shrews are also found in the park. Diversity & endemicity of reptiles (Lizards) and amphibians are remarkably high.

Though this is cold highland plateau the bird diversity is very high. More than 70% of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds are found here.

Kumana National Park

Known as Yala East Kuman is Sri Lankas best Destination to see large number of migratory bird and aquatic birds including flamingos, herons, ibis and many others nest in the mangrove swamps especially in May and June. You can see endemic Red faced Malkoha in forest areas. You can also see herds of elephants and some times spot leopards and are bears too.

Lahugala National Park

Lahugala is a beautiful National Park by the east coast Arugam Bay is a place to see Wild Elephants by the beach. You can see heards of Elephants who are different to other National parks.

Minneriya National Park

This ancient city by the Tank built in 3rd century AD by King Mahasena). is a habitat for wild life and birds. Minneriya now a wild life and Games park is an ideal destination to see wild life and elephants.

Located between Habarana and POLONNARUWA, the 8890 hectares of MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK is an ideal eco tourism location in Sri Lanka. The park consists of mixed evergreen forest and scrub areas and is home to Sri Lanka 's favourites such as sambar deer, leopards and elephants. However the central feature of the park is the ancient Minneriya Tank (built in 3rd century AD by King Mahasena).

During the dry season (June to September), this tank is an incredible place to observe the elephants who come to bathe and graze on the grasses as well as the huge flocks of birds (cormorants and painted storks to name a few) that come to fish in the shallow waters.

It is a great place for elephant spotting all year round – though as the dry season makes water scarce between June and September, more and more elephants gather on the shores of Minneriya Tank. Indeed by late August and September, the awe inspiring site of up to 300 elephants can often be seen, in a phenomonen known as ‘The Gathering’. It is the largest concentration and gathering of Asian elephants that can be seen anywhere in the world. Watching baby elephants playing with each other, bull elephants tussling for dominance and the great matriarchs surveying the scene is not a sight you are likely to forget in a hurry.

Aside from the elephant, Minneriya is also home to some 23 other species of mammals: some, like the Deer and Sambur you will see, some like the Leopard and the Sloth Bear will probably prove elusive. The arid dry zone is a paradise for many species of Lizard and you will see them here in all their technical colour brilliance if you look carefully enough, as well as snakes like the Indian Python and the Mugger Crocodile. Above all, of course, are Sri Lanka’s wonderfully varied bird populations. Among the 150 or so species, particular favorites of ours you may see in Minneriya include the beautiful painted stork, the Pelican and various imposing eagle species, as well as the endemics: the Sri Lankan Jungle Fowl, the Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, and the Sri Lanka Gray Hornbill.

The Udawalawe National Park

The Udawalawe National Park situated in the dry zone of the country and belonging to Sabaragamuwa & Uva provinces. The park area is 30,821 ha. The park was established in 1972.

The park lies within dry zone and small segment lies within intermediate zone. The long dry season is characteristic feature. Main source of rainfall is southwest monsoon (May to September) and mean annual rainfall is about 1520mm. the mean annual temperature is around 29C.

Park consists of dry lowland forest, riverine forest, thorny scrublands and grasslands. One special attraction of the park is the Udawalawe reservoir and the Walawe River which flows through the park.

The main tree species found in the forest area are the satin (Chloroxylon swietenia), Milla (Vites pinata), ebony (Diospyros ebenum) and Ehala (Cassia fistula). Riverine forest dominated by Kumbuk (Terminalia arjuna) & Mandora (Hopea cordifolia). Mana (Cymbopogon confertiflorus), Illuk (Imperata cylindrica) and Daminiya (Grewia tiliaefolia) are found in grasslands & scrublands.

Udawalawe National Park is world famous for its large elephant populations. In this park one can observe elephants at any given time of the day. Other than Elephants water buffalo, spotted & barking deer, wild boar, sambhur, jackal & ruddy, grey & striped necked mongoose are also found in this park. Though the leopard, jungle & fishing cats have recorded in the park sightings are very rare.

The park is also famous for bird life. Crested serpent eagle, changeable hawk eagle, white-bellied sea eagle & grey-headed fishing eagle are the main raptors found in the park. Painted stork, open bill, little & Indian cormorant, Indian darter, many species of waders are also found within the park. Among the forest birds are the warblers, Sri Lanka Jungle fowl, Malabar pied hornbill, Sikir Malkoha, Blue face Malkoha, common Caucal, and grey hornbill.

Yala National Park

There are many National Parks you can visit in Sri Lanka. Yala is the largest national park. The National Parks of Sri Lanka are managed by the department of Wild Life and Conservation. National Parks are bit different from Wild Life sanctuaries which allow free movements. You need to obtain permission and a guide provided by the park. You are not supposed to get out from the vehicle under any circumstances.You need drive a 4 WD vehicle and stay only in specified roads.

Yala National Park is situated in the southeast region of the island in the dry zone boarding the Indian Ocean. Park area is belonging to two provinces namely South and Uva Provinces. The total area of the park (which is of 5 blocks) is 97,881 ha but only Block I and Block II are open for visitors.

The park was initially established in 1938 only with block I and other blocks were included later. Rainfall is highly seasonal. Main source of rainfall is Northeast monsoons (December – February) and inter monsoonal rains during March-April. Mean Annual Rainfall: 900 – 1300 mm.

Area is experiencing drought during June –October. Mean annual Temperature 27o C. Daily temperature above 30oC is not uncommon. Vegetation is mainly consists of Secondary lowland dry monsoon forest & semi arid thorny scrublands. Small patches of riverine forest, mangroves, sand dunes and dry grasslands also presented.

Forest area is dominated by Palu (Manilkara hexandra), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria), Malitthan (Salvadora persica), Ehala (Cassia fistula), Divul (Limonia acidissima) and Kohomba (Azadirachta indica). Thorny scrubland is dominated by Eraminia (Ziziphus.sp) and Andara (Dichrostachys cinerea). Sonneratia, Acanthus, Rhizopora and Lumnitzera species dominate the mangrove vegetation.

All the big game mammals of the country are found within the park. Elephant, Leopard, sloth bear, Spotted Dear, Wild Boar and sambhur. Apart from them small mammals such as Black naped hare, Grey, Ruddy & Striped necked mongoose, Grey Langur & porcupine are common small mammals.

Park is also famous for its abundant bird life. Over140 species have recorded so far within the park. Changeable Hawk Eagle, Crested serpent Eagle, Malabar pied Hornbill, Jungle fowl, painted Stork, White Ibis and Black necked Stork are commonly seen

Wasgamuwa National Park

Wasgamuwa National Park was originally declared as strict nature reserve in 1938 and then change to a national park in 1984. The park lies within central and north- central provinces. The total park area is 39,322 ha.

Rainfall is mainly by northeast monsoon (December to February) and inter-monsoonal rains. Mean annual rainfall varies from 1750mm in dry zone area to 2250 in intermediate zone. Mean annual temperature is around 27C.

Park consists of riverine forest, dry mixed evergreen forest, grasslands and wetlands. As park is almost surrounded by Mahaweli & Amban Rivers, riverine forest area is fairly large.

Flora of the park consists of Palu (Manilkara hexandra), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria), Satin (Chloroxylon swietenia), Wa (Cassia roxburghii), Gal Siyambala (Dialium ovoideum) and Ebony (Diospyros ebenum). The riverine forest dominated by Kumbuk (Terminalia arjuna), Mee (Madhuca longifoloa) and Thimbiri (Diospyros malabarica). Grasslands mainly consist of (Imperata cylindrica).

Wasgamuwa is famous as an elephant habitat. These elephants are known to be less habituated to people and are more wildish. Other than elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sambhur, spotted and barking deer, wild boar and wild buffalo are also found here. Torque Macaque, Purple face leaf monkey and nocturnal slender Loris is also found in the park. Lesser Adjutant, Wooly necked stork, open bill, painted stork, Racket tailed Drongo, Yellow fronted barbet, Sri Lanka Jungle fowl & Spur fowl are among the over 100 species of birds found within the park

Weerawila National park

This dry zone sanctuary is mainly comprises with three lakes namely, Weerawila wewa, Debara wewa and Pannagamuwa wewa. Yodha wewa and Tissa wewa are another two lakes, which located little far away from above three lakes. All these lakes are act as ideal habitats for shorebirds. Since they are situated close to south coast and Bundala National Park, which is the south most destinations of the migratory birds of Sri Lanka lot of migratory birds also can be seen here. Egrets, Cormorants, Asian Openbill, White Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill and many winter migrants can be seen here. Being the most prominent water resources in the area these tanks attracts considerable number of animals during the dry season. However the most common animal of the area is feral Buffalos.

Wilpattu National Parks

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. The area of the park is 131693 ha. The unique feature of this park is the existence of “Willus” (Natural lakes).

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 27C.

The park consists of willus, dry-lowland forests, scrublands, open grasslands and coastal belt. Characteristic feature of the park is that majority of park area is covered with dense forest.

The vegetation dominated by tree species such as Palu (Manilkara hexandra), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria) & Satin (Chloroxylon swietenia). Milla (Vitex altissima), Ebony (Diospyros ebenum) and Wewarana (Alseodaphne semecaprifolia) are also found in fair numbers.

Elephants, leopards, sloth bear, water buffalo and spotted deer are among the large mammals. Coastal belt and willus support abundant birdlife such as painted storks, white ibis, open bills, Whistling teals, spoonbills, cormorants and kingfishers. Apart from them serpent eagles, great racket tail Drongo, Malabar pied hornbills, crested hawk eagles & Sri Lanka jungle fowls are commonly seen. Both water monitors and mugger crocodiles can be seen in the willus.