Nilgala Savannah Forest

Nilgala Savannah Forest
Nilgala Savannah Forest is a savannah-dominated forest located north of Monaragala town in Monaragala District, Sri Lanka. A part of it is a protected forest under the Forest Department, whilst a part is the Gal Oya National Park under the Department of Wildlife Conservation (Goonewardene et al., 2003). The forest extends into an area of 12,432 hectares (Goonewardene et al., 2003; Karunarathna et al., 2019). Its elevation ranges between 200m to 700m within the Irindahela, Hangale, Yakun hela (highest point 700 m), Hamapola, Badangamuwa, Keenagoda, Makada, Karadugala, Kukulagoda, Ewalahela, Gorikkada hills (Karunarathna et al., 2006). The government established the Nilgala dry zone park in 1954 (Goonewardene et al., 2003). 

The mean annual rainfall in the Nilgala forest area varies between 1,500-2,000 mm, received mainly during the northeast monsoon (October-January), and the mean annual temperature is 28-31 °C (Karunarathna et al., 2019). The major vegetation of the forest is classified as dry monsoon grassland (savannah), although the area around Nilgala is mostly lowland tropical dry mixed evergreen forests (Karunarathna et al., 2019). Furthermore, four sub-vegetation categories were identified within forest limits; savannah grasslands, monsoon forests, anthropogenically modified vegetation (e.g. croplands and home gardens) and degraded vegetation with predominantly thorny weeds (Karunarathna et al, 2013).

Nilgala literally means 'blue rock'. Other than biodiversity, Nilgala is rich in archaeological monuments, such as prehistoric, proto-historic and historical Buddhist monasteries (Karunarathna et al., 2006).

1) A pair of Layard's by Rangana Abeyrathne is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

1) Goonewardene, S., Hawke, Z., Vanneck, V., Drion, A., de Silva, A., Jayarathne, R. and Perera, J., 2003. Diversity of Nilgala Fire Savannah, Sri Lanka: with special reference to its herpetofauna. Report of Project Hoona, pp.1-29.
2) Karunarathna, D.M.S.S., Amarasinghe, A.A.T., Abeywardena, U.T.I., Asela, M.D.C. and Sirimanna, D.G.R., 2006. Preliminary study on herpetofaunal diversity of Nilgala forest area in Monaragala district, Sri Lanka. In Proceedings of International Forestry and Environment Symposium. p.74.
3) Karunarathna, D.M.S., Henkanaththegedara, S., Amarasinghe, A.A. and De Silva, A., 2013. Impact of vehicular traffic on herpetofaunal mortality in a savanna forest, eastern Sri Lanka. TAPROBANICA: The Journal of Asian Biodiversity, 5(2). pp.111-119.
4) Karunarathna, S., Bauer, A.M., De Silva, A., Surasinghe, T., Somaratna, L., Madawala, M., Gabadage, D., Botejue, M., Henkanaththegedara, S. and Ukuwela, K.D., 2019. Description of a new species of the genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Reptilia: Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Nilgala savannah forest, Uva Province of Sri Lanka. Zootaxa, 4545(3), pp.389-407.

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This page was last updated on 12 April 2023

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