Kaudulla National Park

Kaudulla National Park, nestled on the picturesque island of Sri Lanka, stands as a testament to the country’s commitment to preserving its natural heritage. Located 197 kilometers (122 mi) from the bustling city of Colombo, this national park was officially designated on April 1, 2002, becoming the 15th such protected area on the island. In the following years, it emerged as a popular tourist destination, attracting over 10,000 visitors during the 2004–2005 season and generating substantial revenue from entrance fees.

Teaming up with Minneriya and Girithale, Bird Life International recognized Kaudulla as an Important Bird Area, highlighting its significance as a haven for avian species. Historically, Kaudulla served as one of the 16 irrigation tanks commissioned by King Mahasen. Following a period of neglect, the tank underwent reconstruction in 1959, rejuvenating the surrounding ecosystem and transforming it into a thriving habitat for diverse flora and fauna.

The park’s vegetation primarily comprises Sri Lanka’s dry evergreen forests, complemented by chena cultivation and expansive grasslands surrounding the tank area. Kaudulla’s rich biodiversity encompasses a wide range of species, including 24 mammals, 25 reptiles, 26 fish, and an impressive 160 bird species.

During the dry season, Sri Lankan Elephants migrate to the Minneriya tank for sustenance. However, as water sources diminish, they venture towards the Kaudulla tank around September in search of abundant water and food. Despite challenges posed by human-elephant conflicts, the elephant population in the region has shown resilience, demonstrating the park’s vital role in conservation efforts.

In addition to elephants, Kaudulla is home to a myriad of mammals, including Sri Lankan Sambar Deer, Axis Deer, Chevrotain, Wild Boar, Leopard, and Sloth Bear. Notably, Kaudulla boasts the distinction of being perhaps the only national park in Sri Lanka to host albino Axis Deer, adding to its unique charm.

The park’s water bodies attract a variety of avian species, with large water birds such as Spot-billed Pelicans and Lesser Adjutants frequenting the Kaudulla tank. The tank’s diverse ecosystem supports fish species like the freshwater Oreochromis mossambicus, while endemic amphibians like Fejervarya pulla thrive in its surroundings. Among the noteworthy reptiles are freshwater turtles such as the Indian Flap-shelled Turtle and Indian Black Turtle.

Kaudulla National Park stands as a beacon of biodiversity, offering visitors a glimpse into Sri Lanka’s natural splendor and serving as a vital sanctuary for its wildlife inhabitants.