History and the Description of the Udawalawe National Park:
The Udawalawa national park was established on 30 th July 1972.It lies in the lower catchment of Udawalawa Reservoir in the country's Intermediate Lowland region. This area falls into two administrative districts in two provinces. The parkland on the right bank of Walawe ganga is within Ratnapura district in the province of sabaragamuwa and the parkland on the left bank falls within Moneragala district in the province of Uva . This Park is located approximately between the latitudes 6 25'E and 6 35' N and longitudes 80 45'N and 81 00' E.
The dry land area of the Park is about 119 Sq miles or 308 Sqm, approximately 28910ha. The Udawalalawa reservoir is situated within the park premises, the total surface area of which at full supply is 3405ha. The total area of the park within the declared boundary including the reservoir is 32,315ha.
Altitude and Physical Features
Altitude ranges from about 100m on the plains to 373m at the top of the deep Walawe Reservoir (3,400ha), which is surrounded by open plains and foothills. The most prominent feature is the kalthota Escarpment and spectacular Diyawinne Fallto the north. Ulgala, in the west of the most prominent peak.
The climate in the park is characterized by a seasonal rainfall and uniformly high temperature conditions. The average annual rainfall is about 1500mm in the south end, and it gradually increases towards the north. The annual average temperature is about 32 C.
The rainfall experienced in the Park is characterized by a bimodal pattern of distribution in both monthly and weeklty rainfall. Two rainfall peaks occur in an year, one in April- May and the other in the October – November. A short dry spell is experienced in February- March and a prolonged dry period is observed from mid May to end of September.
The temperature in the National Park situated so close to 6 N, remains high and relatively uniform throughout the year, that is extreme fluctuations of temperature do not occur within the National Park or its surroundings. The annual average temperature is about 29 C. Plant life and the Vegetation
Vegetation, Originally forested, grassland and thorn-scrub now predominate. Much of the forest was destroyed by chena (shifting cultivation). Tree species include Satin ( Chloroxylon swietenia ), Halmilla (Berrya cordifolia ), Ebony ( Diospyros ebenum ) Ehala ( Cassia fistula ), Kolon ( Adina cordifolia ), Milla ( Vitex pinnata ), Kon (Schleichera oleosa) and Kunumella ( Diospyros ovalifolia ). Scattered trees, constituting 20-50% of existing cover, are mainly satin, ehala and lunumidella ( Melia dubia ). In the riverine forest, kumbuk ( Terminalia arjuna ) and the endemic mandorang ( Hopea cordifolia ) are dominant. Scrub is dominated by damaniya (Grewia tiliaefolia ). Savanna grasslands are dominated by Mana ( Cymbogon confertiflorus) , Illuk (I mperata cylindrical ) and Pogon ( Pennisetum olystachyon)
This park is very famous for the Elephants (Elephas maximus). There are herds of elephant feeding in the grasslands. The Sambar deer (Carvus unicolor), Spotted deer (Carvus axis), Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak), wild boar (Sus scrofa) and water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) are re-establishing themselves. Other mammals include: toque macaque (Maccaca sinica) endemic, common langur (Presbytis entellus), jackal (Canis aureus), toddy cat (Paradoxurus hermaphroditis), leopard ( Panthera pardus) and black- napped hare (Lepus nigricollis) and small Indian civet cat (Viverricula indica), endemic golden palm civet cat ( Paradoxurus zeylonensis) , three species of mongoose (Herpestes fuscus), (H. smithi) and (H. vitticollis), an endemic shrew (Suncus sp.), gerbil (Tatera sp.), rat (Rattus rattus kandianus , soft- furred rat (Millardia meltada), Indian bush rat (Golunda elliotti), mouse (Mus cervicolor) and the endemic (Mus fernandoni)
The avifauna includes large numbers of warblers ( Prinia spp .), together with the usual lowcountry birds in forested areas, and a veriety of reptors. Water birds foun on the reservoir include rare visitors such as Indian cormorant ( Phalacrocorax fuscicollis ) and osprey ( Pandion haliaetus ). Notable endemic species are Sri Lanka spurfowl ( Galloperdix bicalcarata ), Sri Lanka junglefowl ( Gallus lafayetti) , Malabar pied hornbill ( Anthracoceros coronatus) , endemic gray horonbill ( Tockus griseus ) and brown- capped babbler ( Pellorneum fuscocapillum ).
The Uda Walawa Reservoir
The Uda Walawe reservoir itself, deep and continuously replenished by the never drying Walawe river which draws most of its water from the wooded Peak Wilderness sanctuary, the Horton Plains Nature reserve and the Haputale area. The fringes of the reservoir and the narrow creeks are now characterized by the preszence of weather- bleached skeletons of thousands of jungle trees, killed off by the dammed water. Tilapia mossambica has been introduced by the Fisheries Department. The reservoir could become an important breeding place for aquatic birds.