NATIONAL WILDLIFE PARKS
The largest wildlife sanctuary of Sri Lanka Situated 176 km. north of Colombo. It was closed for about 25 years due to the past troubles and now it is opened for the visitors. Wilpattu is approximately 1,908 sq.km. in extent. It has a dense jungle cover which makes it a more exciting park where animals have to be tracked. There are numerous delightful little lakes - known as villus - and the leopard and sloth bear are the specialty rather than elephants. Mouse deer, barking deer, spotted deer and sambers are s common sight in this park.
This is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. The park consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public, and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names such as, Ruhuna National Park (block 1) and Kumana National Park or 'Yala East' for the adjoining area. It is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. The park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi) and is located about 300 kilometres (190 mi) from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. Usually the most visited area is block 1 The density of animals are very high in this park, therefore the visitors have more chances to spot leopards also spotted deer, wild boar, crocodile, peacocks are in plenty. A variety of birds are a common sight.
Uda Walawe National park is situated about 170 km from Colombo. It covers an area of 30,821 hectares. As the park lies within the dry zone mostly the vegetation is grassland. A large number of elephants can be seen here. Also adjoining this park an elephant transit home is available. The visitors can see the bottle feeding in every three hours.
This is an ideal park to spot a large number of elephants, with a jeep safari in Minneriya National park. The park covers an area of 8,889 hectares giving home to 160 species of birds about 25 species of reptiles, 26 fish species,09 amphibians and more than 78 butterfly species. The park is an ideal place for elephant watching.
Here too you will see a large number of elephants and birds. 6900 hectares in extent including the Kawdulla lake and surrounding jungle area. This was opened in September 2002 as a National Park.
Bundala National Park is the latest addition to the National Parks and is situated 260 km. away from Colombo. All species of waterbirds resident in the country and the migrant birds inhabit this Park.
Situated approximately 200 km. away from Colombo, the Wasgomuwa National Park lies within the Polonnaruwa and Matale Districts and have the Mahaweli river and Amban river as its eastern and western boundaries. Tropical intermediate dry mixed evergreen forest predominates its environment. 143 species of birds, 17 species of reptiles, 17 species of fish, 50 species of butterflies are recorded at Wasgomuwa park
The highest plateau of Sri Lanka, is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. This plateau at an altitude of 2,100–2,300 metres (6,900–7,500 ft) is rich in biodiversity and many species found here are endemic to the region. This region was designated a national park in 1988. It is also a popular tourist destination and is situated 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Nuwara Eliya and 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Ohiya. The original name of the area was Maha Eliya Thenna – ("great open plain"). But in the British period the plains were renamed after Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton, the
British governor of Ceylon from 1831 to 1837, who travelled to the area to meet the Ratemahatmaya of Sabaragamuwa in 1836, in 1834 by Lt William Fisher of the 78th Regiment and Lt. Albert Watson of the 58th Regiment, who 'discovered' the plateau. Stone tools dating back to Balangoda culture have been found here. The local population who resided in the lowlands ascended the mountains to mine gems, extract iron ore, construct an irrigational canal and fell trees for timber.
The Horton Plains are the headwaters of three major Sri Lankan rivers, the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe.. Stone tools dating back to Balangoda culture have been found here. The plains' vegetation is grasslands interspersed with montane forest, and includes many endemic woody plants. Large herds of Sri Lankan Sambar Deer feature as typical mammals, and the park is also an Important Bird Area with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka but restricted to the Horton Plains. The sheer precipice of World's End and Baker's Falls are among the tourist attractions of the park
The peaks of Kirigalpoththa (2,389 metres (7,838 ft)) and Thotupola Kanda (2,357 metres (7,733 ft)), the second and the third highest of Sri Lanka, are situated to the west and north respectively.). The rocks found in the park belong to the Archaean age and belong to the high series of the Precambrian era and are made up of
Khondalites, Charnockites and granitic gneisses. The soil type is of the red-yellow podsolic group and the surface layer is covered with decayed organic matter. Many pools and waterfalls can be seen in the park, and Horton Plains is considered the most important watershed in Sri Lanka. The Horton Plains are the headwaters of important rivers such as the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe. The plains also feeds Belihul Oya, Agra Oya, Kiriketi Oya, Uma Oya, and Bogawantalawa Oya. Due to its high elevation, fog and cloud deposit a considerable amount of moisture on the land. Slow moving streams, swamps, and waterfalls are the important wetland habitats of the park.
Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker had advised the British Government "to leave all Montane Forests above 5000 ft. undisturbed" and an administrative order to this effect had been issued in 1873 that prevented clearing and felling of forests in the region. Horton Plains was designated as a wildlife sanctuary on 5 December 1969, and because of its biodiversity value, was elevated to a national park on 18 March 1988. The Peak Wilderness Sanctuary which lies in west is contiguous with the park. The land area covered by Horton Plains is 3,160 hectares (12.2 sq mi). Horton Plains contains the most extensive area of cloud forest still existing in SriLanka.