Safari in Sri Lanka

Wasgamuwa | Udawalawe | Kumana | Wilpattu | Yala

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Sri Lanka’s wildlife is as varied as the island itself, and this has become One of the many reasons as to why people visit Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is now one of the best places in the world to see elephants and leopards to marine life and a vast number of different birds. With 12% of the country designated for wildlife protection, it is easy to get a taste of Sri Lankan wildlife: safari parks and sanctuaries offer the easiest way to see animals in their natural habitat. Many travellers visit Sri Lanka expecting to see elephants, the island’s most iconic animal and leopards in Yala; highest population density of leopards in the world.

Wasgamuwa National Park is a natural park in Sri Lanka situated in the Matale and Polonnaruwa Districts. It was declared to protect and to make a refuge for the displaced wild animals during the Mahaweli Development Project in 1984 and is one of the four National Parks designated under the Project. Wasgamuwa is one of protected areas where Sri Lankan Elephants can be seen in large herds. It is also one of the Important Bird Areas in Sri Lanka.

The Udawalawe National park which has acreage of 30,821 hectares, was declared as a National Park in 30 th June 1972 under the Fauna and Flora Protection ordinance. The park lies in the Rathnepura District in Sabaragamuwa Province Monaragala District in Uva Province. It forms of the largest conservation areas within these districts and largely comprises the lower and the immediate catchments of Udawalawe. The walawe reservoir is situated in the park and surface area of it at full supply level is about 3405 hectares

ACCESS

The easiest and quickest aproch from Colombo is through Rathnapura Pelmadulla on the Ebilipity road. At Thimbolketiya turn left and Udawalaer junction to take the road to ThanamalWila.

The main entrence to the park is situated at the Udawalawe, Thanamalwila road about 11km from Udawalawe Junction which is southern boundary of the park. The park is therefore only 115 miles from Colombo.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERRISTICS    

The most prominent feature is the Kalthote escarpment and spectacular Diyawinne fall to the north Ulagala and in the west of the park. The park is situated in the dry zone. There is a short dry period in February-March. Sometimes that period is prolonged from mid May to end of September. This is mences with intermonsoon in the month of September. This is followed by Northeast monsoon rain in November to mid January. Due to conventional activity, the rainfall can occur during April-May. The mean annual rainfall is about 1524mm. The annual average temperature is about 32 ° C and it can uniform throughout the year.

VEGITATION     

The soil and climatic conditions are responsible for classified vegetation types. The predominant ecosystem of the park area is the forest area with scattered grasslands and thorny-shrubs.

FAUNA

This National Park is very popular among visitor for elephants because, they can be observed even at mid day. Herds of elephants can ve seen along the river during the dry season which is usually between May and September. Birdlife is in plenty, but once again difficult to observe when on the ground due to the tall grass.

Yala East National Park Lies on the south -east coast in Eastern Provience,12 km south of Arugam bay,and is accessible from the Wellawaya -Pottuvil Road.Contiguous to the south with Ruhuna (Yala) National Park/Yala Strict Nature Reserve (126,786 ha) along Kumbukkan oya.Block II was established on 26 December 1969,followed by Block I on 2 January 1970,having originally been reserved for shooting as an intermediate zone many years before hand.Total area is 18149ha with 285.3ha in Block II and 17,863.4 ha in Block I.

ACCESS

Gateway to Yala East is Colombo – udawalawa – thanamalwila – Wallawaya- Monaragala -Siyambalanduwa- Lahugala – Pottuwil -panama – okanda – kumana.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERRISTICS    

The mainfeature is the world famous Kumana mangrove swamp (c.200ha),which is surronded by plains and jungle.The flat terrain of the coast is broken by numerous ,rocky outcrops.There are large saline lagoons along the coast ,often surround by extensive plains

VEGITATION     

The water -filled basins basins in the central flood plain are characterised by the abundance and predominance of water -tolerant grasses and aquatic plants. the distribution of vegetation in the villus shows a characteristic pattern,which is related to the period of inundation and the depth of flooding.On the margis,where wet conditions are brief and the depth of flooding slight ,there are creeping grasses,such as Cynodon dactylon,and various essentially terrestrialannual plants which are capable of surviving wet conditions.

FAUNA

In general ,the fauna is similar to that found in Ruhuna National Park.Kumana is reputed for its avifauna.Large numbers of certian species congregate to nest in the mangrooves in May -June .Common birds include pelican Pelecanus sp.,painted stork Ibis leucocephalus,spoonbill Platalea leucorodia,white ibis Threskiornis melancocephalus,open-billed strok Anastomus oscitans,purple hero Ardea purpurea,grey heron A. cinerea,egrets Egretta spp.,pond heron Ardeola grayii,night heron Nycticorax nycticorax,Indian darter Anhinga melanogaster andcormorant Phalacrocorax niger.Moorhen Gallinula chloropus,water cock Gallicrex cinerea,purple mooehen Porphyrio porphyrio,pheasant – tailed jacana Hydrophasiamus chirurgus,black – winged stilt Himantopus himnatopus,whistling teal Dendrocygna javanica and little grebe Podiceps ruficollis are also present ,as it black- necked strok Xenorhynchus asiaticus, one of Sri Lanka’s rarest birds.

Wilpattu National park is among the oldest and most important of protected areas in Sri Lanka. It also contains a number of important cultural sites. The sanctuary lies inland from the coast and is entirely within Northern Province. It is contiguous with the park, the intervening boundary being marked by the Moderagam Aru.

ACCESS

The only practical access from the Colombo would be via Negombo, Chilaw and Puttalam. The turn off is at the little hamlet of Thimbiriwewa on the 28 th mile post along the Puttalam Anuradhapura road and the park office where one obtains permit and a guide is at Hunuwilagama 8km from the turn off.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERRISTICS    

The main topographical feature in this park is the concentration of “villus” or “lakes” within it. The striking feature, though confined to certain sector of the park, is copper red, loamy soils extremely varied. The western sector of the park with deeply forested areas and thorny bushes in reminiscent of Yala National Park in the southern Sri Lanka. Characterized by inter monsoon rains in March and April an extensive drought from May until early September and a major rainy season (Northern Monsoon) from September until December. Mean annual temperature is 27.2 ° C and total annual precipitations approximately 1000mm based on long term records.

VEGITATION     

Three types of vegetation can be distinguished : Littoral vegetation including salt grass and low scrub immediately adjacent to the beach, a 5-10km coastal belt of monsoon scrub of very low stature; and further inland, monsoon forest with tall emergent.

FAUNA

Mammalian diversity and ecological densities are highest in such ecotomes as the interfaces between forest, scrub and grasslands converge in the west and the “villus” and drainage systems in the center of the park. A total of 31 species of mammals have been recorded but additional species of Rodentia and Chiropotera unbodoubtedly present. Among the most conspicuous reptiles are common.

Yala National Park is the oldest national park in the Sri Lanka and it is extended over two provinces, namely Uva & Southern. It lies within Monaragala & Hambantota districts.Yala National Park covers about 97,880.7 hecters, the multifarious eco system ranging from the Moist Monsoon Forest to other natural compartment. Yala has been declared as a protected area in 1900 and it was a 389 km2 at that time. In 1909 Yala was declared as Sanctuary and gain gazette as a National Park in 25 th February 1938.

ACCESS

Gateway to Yala is Tissamaharama two which can be reached from the Colombo either through Hambantota or Tanamalwila. Two access routes to Yala can be reached by

Tissamaharama – Yodakandiya – Kirinda – Nimalawa – Palatupana

Tissamaharama – Yodakandiya – Situlpahuwa – Bambuwa – Palatupana

PHYSICAL CHARACTERRISTICS    

Yala is situated in the lowest penplain of the island. The penplain which is a flat and a gently undulating surrounds the hill country on all sides. Yala is located in the one of agro-ecological region and the season of dry is long and prominent. Major rainy season for this region is North-East monsoon which occur from October to January. The mean total annual rainfall of Yala is about 1281mm. Average monthly rainfall ranges from a low of 153.6mm in January to a high 268.8mm. The mean temperature ranges from a lowwst of 26.38 ° C in January to highest of 27.85 ° C in May. The average relative humidity as recorded at Hambantota ranges between 76% and 81%. The North-east Monsoon becomes scarce during the long dry spell specially in the months of August to November. There are number of water major and minor rivers and streams running through the park.

VEGITATION     

Yala has a secondary forest, probably a few hundred years old where semi-arid thorn scrub is interspersed pockets with fairly dense forest marked by many flowering trees and rare topical woods.

FAUNA

The salient vertebrate species are mammals such as elephant (Elephant maximus maximus), wild buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), spotted deer (Axix axix ceylonensis), and various bird species. Depending on the availability at suitable habitats and animal interrelationships the distributions of different species vary amongst different regions of Yala.

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