WILD HILLSIDE

MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK This park covers some 8,890 hectares and has a tropical monsoonal climate. It is one of the best places to catch the annual elephant gathering, which brings herds from the north through the elephant corridor that connects with Kaudulla and Wasgamuwa National Parks.

WASGAMUWA NATIONAL PARK Bordered by the Mahaweli and Amban Rivers to the east and west, Wasgamuwa was declared a national park to provide a refuge for animals displaced by the Mahaweli Development Project in 1984.

HORTON PLAINS The coldest and windiest location in the island, Horton Plains consists of montane evergreen forests, grasslands, marshy lands and aquatic ecosystems. There aren’t any elephants at Horton Plains.

KALAWEWA NATIONAL PARK This park represents a wilderness surrounding King Dhatusena’s Kala Wewa and Balalu Wewa.

FLOOD PLAINS NATIONAL PARK Another national park created during the Mahaweli Development Project, it acts as a corridor for elephants migrating between Wasgamuwa and Somawathiya National Parks.

GALWAY’S LAND NATIONAL PARK Situated in the city limits of Nuwara Eliya, this small park is a popular birdwatching site. It consists of a dense patch of montane forest a few kilometres east of town and was declared a wildlife sanctuary, and later a national park, to protect its avian occupants.

Compiled by Nicola Jayasundera



FAUNA SHOWCASE


MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK This is home to 24 species of mammals including ele­phants, leopard, bears, deer, buffaloes, three species of mongoose, porcupines and the Indian pangolin. There are 170 recorded species of birds that range from migrating waders like wood sandpipers, common sandpipers and Kentish plovers to forest birds such as the Malabar pied hornbill, rufous woodpecker and the globally endangered lesser adjutant. Endemics include the Sri Lanka grey hornbill, Sri Lanka green pigeon and brown-capped babbler.

WASGAMUWA NATIONAL PARK While the main attraction is the elephants, other wildlife includes the purple-faced langur, wild boar, sambar, spotted deer and buffalo. Reptiles include the water monitor, mugger and estuarine crocodiles, and pythons. Birdlife embraces the Malabar trogon, greater racket-tailed drongo and endemics such as the yellow-fronted barbet and red-faced malkoha.

HORTON PLAINS Most frequently sighted are the herds of sambar. Other mammals in the park are the stripe-necked mongoose, grizzled giant squirrel, endemic purple-faced langur, toque macaque, fishing cats and Eurasian otters. All montane forest endemics such as the Sri Lanka bush warbler, dull-blue flycatcher, yellow-eared bulbul, Sri Lanka wood pigeon, Sri Lanka white-eye, spot-winged thrush, scaly thrush and Sri Lanka whistling thrush can be found here. Himalayan migrants such as the pied thrush, Kashmir flycatcher and Indian pitta can be sighted here as well.

KALAWEWA NATIONAL PARK Famous for its elephant herds, this area is home to a high density of tuskers not seen elsewhere in the island. The dry season brings multitudes of Asian openbills and other waterbirds to the park.

FLOOD PLAINS NATIONAL PARK In addition to herds of elephants, fishing cats, jungle cats, rusty-spotted cats, jackals, Indian muntjac, deer, Eurasian otters, Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain and leopards are also in residence. Sightings of the gray slender loris have also been recorded. Along with a rich avifauna of migratory birds, exotic freshwater fish such as Tilapia and giant gourami, as well as endemics like flying barbs, stone suckers and spotback loach have also been recorded here. Marshy habitats are home to reptiles including water snakes, mugger and estuarine crocodiles, and the Indian black and Indian flapshell turtles.

GALWAY’S LAND NATIONAL PARK This park is home to about 20 rare migrant birds and 30 native species including the Indian blackbird, Sri Lanka bush warbler, yellow-eared bulbul, dusky-blue flycatcher, grey-headed canary-flycatcher, Sri Lanka white-eye, Kashmir flycatcher, grey tit and many more.

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