Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park, nestled on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces in Sri Lanka, stands as a testament to the island’s commitment to wildlife conservation. Established on June 30, 1972, the park spans a sprawling 30,821 hectares (119.00 sq mi) of land area and was created to provide a safe haven for the displaced wild animals affected by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe River. The park’s inception also aimed to safeguard the catchment area of the reservoir, preserving the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

Located 165 kilometers (103 mi) from Colombo, Udawalawe National Park holds significant importance as a habitat for a diverse array of wildlife, earning its reputation as the third most visited park in the country. The park’s open habitats offer prime viewing opportunities, particularly for the majestic Sri Lankan Elephants, which are easily spotted roaming freely in the park. With a herd of approximately 250 elephants believed to be permanent residents, Udawalawe serves as a vital sanctuary for these gentle giants.

Beyond elephants, Udawalawe is home to a wealth of mammal species, including the elusive Sri Lankan leopard, Rusty-spotted cat, fishing cat, and Sri Lankan sloth bear. Other notable residents include Sri Lankan sambar deer, Sri Lankan axis deer, Indian muntjac, wild boar, and water buffalo, among others. The park’s diverse habitats also harbor a rich avian population, making it a haven for birdwatchers.

Endemic species such as the Sri Lanka Spur fowl, Red-faced Malkoha, and Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill grace the park with their presence, while migratory birds such as the White Wagtail and Black-capped Kingfisher add to the park’s avian diversity. Udawalawe’s open parkland attracts a plethora of birds of prey, including the majestic White-bellied Sea Eagle, Crested Serpent-eagle, and Grey-headed Fish Eagle.

In addition to its resident and migratory bird species, Udawalawe’s water bodies, including the Udawalawe reservoir, attract a variety of water birds such as cormorants, Spot-billed Pelicans, and Painted Storks. The park’s rich biodiversity extends to its lush landscapes, where land birds such as the Indian Roller, Indian Peafowl, and Malabar Pied Hornbill thrive.

Udawalawe National Park, with its captivating wildlife and stunning natural beauty, stands as a beacon of conservation and ecotourism in Sri Lanka, offering visitors an unforgettable safari experience amidst the wonders of nature.