Udawalawe National Park Being located on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva provinces of Sri Lanka. Udawalawe National Park is situated about 200 km south-east of Colombo. You can easily reach Udawalawa National Park from Colombo via Rathnapura – Pelmadulla – Colombage Ara – Thanamalwila Road and access to Udawalawe park entrance.
Initially, the objective of constructing this national park was to provide a sanctuary for the wild animals exiled due to the construction of the Udawalawe reservoir. Udawalawe reservoir is now considered as the main attraction for the elephants at the Udawalawe National Park. Established in the dry zone of the country, the sanctuary gets an annual rain fall of approximately 1,525 mm and the average temperature remains around 29.5C0.
Stretching over a land of 30,821 hectares, Udawalawe National Park is famous for its large population of elephants. Hence, this national park is ideal to observe the herds of marvelous Asian elephants in their unique natural habitats. It is known that about 400 elephants in total are sustaining here while about 250 of them are considered as permanently resident.
Udawalawe is undoubtedly the best place in Sri Lanka to see wild Asian Elephants throughout the year: there are about 500 elephants in the park and they often roam in herds of up to 100. Udawalawe National Park is unique in terms of consistency in numbers of elephants roaming the park: it has no a seasonal variation in herds of elephants. The best hours to visit the park are in the mornings and evenings. Late evening also affords the photographic opportunities in the backdrop of loveliest sunsets.
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 ).
Udawalawe National Park – tourist info for Safari in Udawalawe; is an excellent destination to see elephants, with herds of 50 to 60 individuals regularly seen and game drives are in open-top jeeps and accompanied by local wildlife guides.
The Sri Lankan elephant, a distinct sub-species of the mainland Asian elephant of India and Thailand, is the easiest to see. Its gentle demeanor and indomitable size has made this gentle giant a much-loved wildlife icon the world over.
Although as many as 10,000 elephant roamed Sri Lanka at the turn of the century, only some 5,000 live in the wild today. This is largely to the ‘Human Elephant Conflict’ (HEC) that leads to the death of 150-200 elephants each year, causing its classification as an endangered species.
Besides elephant, other mammal species in the park include, sambar, chital and wild boar. Dry zone birdlife includes greyheaded fish eagle, black-shouldered kite, changeable hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle, white-bellied sea eagle, shikra, common kestrel, brown fish owl and western marsh harrier.