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Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park is unique among other national parks of Sri Lanka as it enables to see wildlife specially the elephants at any time of the day
Udawalawe National Park
Udawalawe National Park (Sinhala: උඩවලව ජාතික වනෝද්‍යානය) is a national park situated on the boundary of Ratnapura and Monaragala Districts, Sri Lanka. It is presently one of the top three parks in the country in terms of visitor attractions and revenue (Kariyawasam et al., 2020; Ranaweerage, 2013).

The park was established on 30 June 1972 to protect the immediate catchment of the Udawalawe Reservoir and to provide a refuge for wildlife (especially wild elephants) displaced due to the commencement of the Udawalawe Irrigation Project (Green, 1990; Perera et al., 2021; Ranaweerage, 2013; Silva & Kotagama, 1997).

Physical features & climate
The park covers approximately 32,315 ha of natural and planted forest lands (Chandrajith et al., 2009). The majority of the park is located in the intermediate climatic zone, but a segment lies within the dry zone (Chandrajith et al., 2009). There is one major reservoir (Udawalawe Reservoir) and two smaller reservoirs providing permanent water and several seasonal natural and man-made water sources (de Silva et al., 2011). 

The mean annual rainfall of the area is 1500 mm, with two rainy spells - an inter-monsoonal spell between March and May and the northeast monsoon from October to January (Perera et al., 2021). The mean annual temperature is 32 ℃ (Perera et al., 2021).

The park has been electric fenced, leaving open two exits for wildlife via the Dahaiyagala and Lunugamwehera corridors (de Silva et al., 2011). The park's surrounding areas are irrigated by the Udawalawe Irrigation Scheme under the Sri Lankan Government’s Mahaweli Authority (Kariyawasam et al., 2020).

Flora & Fauna
Elephants roaming
Twenty-one (21) species of fishes, 12 amphibians, 33 reptiles, 184 birds, and 43 species of mammals have been recorded in the Udawalawe National Park (Chandrajith et al., 2009). Of them, the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is a flagship species of the park (Perera et al., 2021). The total population of elephants in the park was recorded as being between 804 and 1160 individuals (Perera et al., 2021).

The vegetation is subtropical and consists of 57.3% forest and 28.3% grasslands (Chandrajith et al., 2009).
1) Chandrajith, R., Kudavidanage, E., Tobschall, H.J. and Dissanayake, C.B., 2009. Geochemical and mineralogical characteristics of elephant geophagic soils in Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka. Environmental geochemistry and health, 31(3), pp.391-400.
2) de Silva, S., Ranjeewa, A.D. and Weerakoon, D., 2011. Demography of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) at Uda Walawe National Park, Sri Lanka based on identified individuals. Biological Conservation, 144(5), pp.1742-1752.
3) Green, M.J.B. ed., 1990. IUCN directory of South Asian protected areas. IUCN. pp.261-263.
4) Kariyawasam, S., Wilson, C., Rathnayaka, L.I.M., Sooriyagoda, K.G. and Managi, S., 2020. Conservation versus socio-economic sustainability: A case study of the Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka. Environmental Development, 35, pp.1-26.
5) Perera, W.P.T.A., Prematilaka, P.H.K.L.A., Haseena, M.H.A., Athapaththu, A.H.L.C.M. and Wijesinghe, M.R., 2021. Changes in habitat coverage from 2005 to 2019 in the Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka. Ceylon Journal of Science, 50(4), pp.467-474.
6) Ranaweerage, E., 2013. Tourists' specialization and wildlife values in the context of wildlife-viewing tourism in protected areas: A study of Elephant-viewing Tourists at Udawalawe National Park in Sri Lanka. pp.103-109.
7) Silva, K.A.I.D. and Kotagama, H.B., 1997. An optimal fee for entrance to Udawalawe National Park: an assessment. Tropical Agricultural Research Vol. 9 . pp.317-329.

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This page was last updated on 21 April 2023

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