Compiled By L.A.M.C.Amarasekara
Forestry and environment socitey, University of Sri Jayewardenepura
The Horton Plains National Park is the only national park situated in the wet zone of the country and falls within the Nuwara Eliya district. Situated 2300m above sea level this national park has different climatic conditions and habitat to all the other national parks. Almost all life forms in Horton Plains are adapted to the high altitude conditions. There are a lot of endemic flora and fauna found in the plains itself. The endemicity among fauna is comparatively high. Bear Monkey (race of the Purple Face leaf Monkey), Sambhur and Leopard are some interesting mammals. One would also find several endemic hill country birds in the Horton plains national park. The panoramic scenic beauty of the hill country could be witnessed within the park. The famous “World’s End” and “Bakers Falls” are major attractions. The Kirigalpotta, second highest peak and the Thotapola, third highest peak of the country are also situated in the Horton plains.
Yala National Park
The Ruhunu (Yala) National Park is one of the largest national parks in the Country with 103,882.9 hectares. It is situated 300 K.m. south of Colombo on the southeast shore of Sri Lanka. This National Park has several habitat types such as forests, scrub lands, grass lands, lagoons, beaches and other wetlands. This is the most visited national park of the country and its main attractions are Elephants, Leopards, Sloth Bears, Crocodiles, migratory and resident birds. Most appealing is the overall ‘feel’ of undisturbed jungle. Big rock formations, Tanks, Beaches and the Lagoons amplify the scenic beauty. A safari jeep ride will take you to close encounters with the wild beasts and to the beauty of the park and make it an unforgettable experience of your life.
Kithulgala Forest Reserve
The Kithulgala forest is a secondary rain forest situated beside the Kelani River, one of our longest rivers. There is a tributary flowing through the forest to this river. The forest reserve has a high biodiversity. Though it is mostly secondary forest, it’s faunal and floral diversity is very similar to a primary forest. Wild boar, Toque Macaque, Purple faced leaf monkey, and Barking deer are some of the interesting mammal species.Among the interesting bird species Red faced Malkoha, Ceylon Blue Magpie, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Frog Mouth and Layard’s Parakeet are outstanding.
Udawalawe National Park
Udawalawe National Park is situated in both intermediate zone and the dry zone. Udawalawe park is adjacent to the Udawalawe reservoir and Walawe river. The extent of the Udawalawe park is approximately 30821 hectares and is situated 170km south east of Colombo. This park lies between Rathnapura and Moneragala districts. Though rain forests, scrub lands, and teak plantations are the habitat types of this park, grasslands with tall grass and occasional trees and bushes decorates the land for the living herds of wild Elephants. Udawalawe, is probably one of the best places to see wild elephants in Sri Lanka!
Bundala National Park
Bundala National Park is the only ‘RAMSAR’ site in Sri Lanka, which lies in south arid zone of the country. This national park consists of many large and small water bodies such as lagoons, tanks (reservoirs) and salt pans. Apart from the wetlands, the park consists of dry thorny scrub forest short in height. This type of forest is unique to the dry and arid parts of the country. The water bodies create a good feeding ground for the wetland birds, Migratory birds & Flocks of humming birds which attracts many visitors. Migratory birds can be found in very large numbers during the migratory period. A large flock of Flamingos loitering is also a big attraction.