Maduru Oya National Park

Maduru Oya National Park-Sri Lanka

Image Courtesy |Anton Croos

Maduru Oya National Park was designed to protect the immediate catchments of five reservoirs developed under the Accelerated Mahaweli Development Programme. This is located 265km away from Colombo , in the districts of Ampara Buddulla and Polonnaruwa and spans the border between Eastern and Uva provinces. A community of Vedda people, the indigenous ethnic group of Sri Lanka lives within the park boundary in Henanigala. The topographic feature is the 8km long range of Rocky Mountains in the south west of the park. The area of park is 58,7850ha

Entrance to Maduru Oya National Park


The easiest route from Colombo is via Kurunegala, Dambulla, Habarana, Polonnaruwa and Manamitiya.




What to see in Maduru Oya National Park.

The park is an important for its rich wildlife which includes a variety of endemic species. It is reported that about 150-200 elephants live here. Apart from the elephants the mammals include sloth bear, leopard, water buffalo toque monkey , common langur, jackal , fishing cat , wild boar , Indian muntjac , spotted deer , sambar , porcupine , black-naped hare , Indian pangolin , squirrels, rats and mice.European otter Lutra lutra has also been reported in the park.

When to Visit Maduru Oya National Park?


February to October is the best period to visit the park

Category of Persons Applicable Fee per Person
Day Visit Overnight Visit
Local adult or locally resident adult Rs.40.00 Rs.80.00 per day
Foreign adult 10.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees 20.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees
Local child or locally resident child(6-12 yrs) Rs.20.00 Rs.40.00 per day
Foreign child (6-12yrs) 5.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees 10.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees
Service Charge 8.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees
Vehicle Fee – Jeep/Car/Van/Bus Rs. – 250/125/250/650
VAT 15 %
School children Rs.10.00

 

  • Please note that the above Park fees are charged by the Department of Wildlife Conservation Sri Lanka. Contact us in case you need to know other charges(Safari, Lodging etc)



Galoya National Park

Galoya National Park- Sri Lanka

Image Courtesy |Wild Hawk Safari

 

Galoya National Park is situated in the southeast of Sri Lanka and to the west of Ampara. This was established with the intention of protecting the catchment areas of Senanayake Samudraya and several other reservoirs. The elevation of the park varies from 30 m to about 900 m Danigala, Nilgala, and Ulpotha are the mountains of the park. Rain is received during the North-eastern monsoon. Bird’s Island in the reservoir is an island used by birds for nesting. Danigala was the home to the Henebadde Veddas.( minority indigenous group of people in Sri Lanka).A rock near the Henebedde cave contains Brahmi inscriptions.

Access to Galoya National Park.

 

You can reach Gal Oya National Park via Ratnapura, Pelmadulla, Udawalawe, Thanamalwila, Wellawaya, Moneragala and then north from Siyambalanduwa to Inginiyagala.



What to see in Galoya National Park?

 

45% of the park is covered by evergreen forest and 33% is taken up by savanna areas. Galoya National Parki is a sanctuary to 32 species of terrestrial mammals. Including Langur endemic Toque Macaque Leopard sloth, Elephant , Wild Boar, three species of deer and Water Buffalo . About 150 of Sri Lanka 's 430 species of birds have been observed in this region.

Best time to visit Galoya National Park

 

Best time to visit Gal Oya National Park is from March to July. During this period you can see elephants swimming from one island to another island in the great Senanayaka Samaudra reservoir.

Charge for Visiting Gal Oya National Park

 

Category of Persons Applicable Fee per Person
Day Visit Overnight Visit
Local adult or locally resident adult Rs.40.00 Rs.80.00 per day
Foreign adult 10.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees 20.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees
Local child or locally resident child(6-12 yrs) Rs.20.00 Rs.40.00 per day
Foreign child (6-12yrs) 5.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees 10.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees
Service Charge 8.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees
Vehicle Fee – Jeep/Car/Van/Bus Rs. – 250/125/250/650
VAT 15 %
School children Rs.10.00

 

  • *Please note that the above Park fees are charged by the Department of Wildlife Conservation Sri Lanka. Contact us in case you need to know other charges(Safari, Lodging etc)

 



Lunugamwehera National Park

Lunugamwehera National Park

 

Image Courtesy |Mammalwatcher

Lunugamwehera National Park is situated 261 km southwest from Colombo. It was declared a national park with the intention of protecting the catchment area of the Lunugamvehera reservoir and wildlife of the area and it is also a corridor for elephants to migrate between Yala National Park and Udawalawe National Park. Lunugamvehera is in the Dry zone of Sri Lanka and records temperature close to 30 degrees centigrade with rain between November and January each year.

Access to Lunugamwehera National Park

 

You can enter Lumugamwehera either via Rathnapura, Uda walawe, Thanamalwila to Lunugamvehera (approximately 231km) or via Hambantota, tissamaharama, thanamalwila to Lunugamvehera (approximately 265km)

What to see in Lunugamwehera National Park?

 

You can see 21 fish species, 12 amphibians, 33 reptiles, 183 birds and 43 mammals including Sri Lankan elephant, water buffalo, Sri Lankan sambar deer, wild boar, Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain, grizzled giant squirrel, Sri Lankan axis deer, Asian palm civet, Mugger crocodile,grey heron, black-headed ibis, Asian openbill, painted stork, and spot-billed pelican .

When to visit Lunugamwehera?

 

This park is open throughout the year and you can spot the same number of elephants throughout the year. Hence, there is no specific best time to visit lunugamwehera.

Category of Persons Applicable Fee per Person
Day Visit Overnight Visit
Local adult or locally resident adult Rs.40.00 Rs.80.00 per day
Foreign adult 10.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees 20.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees
Local child or locally resident child(6-12 yrs) Rs.20.00 Rs.40.00 per day
Foreign child (6-12yrs) 5.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees 10.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees
Service Charge 8.00 U.S. Dollars or its equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees
Vehicle Fee – Jeep/Car/Van/Bus Rs. – 250/125/250/650
VAT 15 %
School children Rs.10.00

Bundala National Park

Image CourtesyAmila Tennakoon

 

If you are planning to see lot of elephants at one place, this would not be the ideal place. Bundala is famous for wintering ground for migratory water birds. So you can see lot of birds here and few elephants too. It has an average relative humidity of 80% meaning that it has dry zone climate. Bundala is situated in Hambanthota District, 251 Km away from the capital.

Bundala Park contains five shallow, brackish lagoons with salt pans in three. Bundala park has a small population of elephants that varies between 25 and 60 depending on the season. It’s a home for 142 local species of birds and 58 species of migratory birds. Highest number of immigrant birds are reported in September and March. Apart from the elephants and the birds, you could also see 32 species of mammals including civets, Grey & Ruddy mongoose, porcupine, giant Indian palm squirrels, black-naped hares, Spotted Deer, Wild buffalo, wild boars.

 

 

 

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Minneriya/ Habarana

Image Courtesy |Rohit Varma

Minneriya’s tank is the reason why elephants head here in the dry season after the monsoon has finished. This National Park and Kaudulla are linked by a corridor which benefits both parks. There is forest, scrub, grassland and rocky outcrops, home to many mammals including the highest concentration of elephants in Sri Lanka.

The dry season is the time to see most elephants, some of which depart down the ‘corridor’ around September.

There has been some forest clearance which is threatening the environment but hopefully as more overseas tourists begin to explore more of the Island and its National Parks, increased revenue will be regarded as a motivation for more conservation. The nearby city of Habarana certainly has plenty of good accommodation that can cater for increased demand. The ancient fortress of Sigiriya has been a reason to come to this central part of Sri Lanka and the Parks should provide added impetus.

Elephants-Human Conflict

Human conflict is nothing new. Elephant habit has been lost over the years because of the need for land for cultivation. The reservoirs that were built in the dry zone a century ago transformed land. Agriculture expanded and that process has been ongoing. The result is that the elephant population has become fragmented within the dry zone. When this process started there were probably as many as 8,000 elephants on the island. For a variety of reasons that figure seems to have fallen below 2,000 in five different areas twenty years ago. The Tamil Tiger conflict was a major reason for this and its end has certainly helped the elephants though the problem of land mines did not appear immediately after the cessation of hostilities.

The good news is that a census at water holes a few years ago concluded there was almost 6,000 elephants. That is despite the fact that wild elephants have been killed in many parts of the islands because of perceived need to protect homes and crops.

The Department of Wildlife Conservation works to expand the habitats available and hence increase the wild elephant population; the recent census suggests not without some success. Some areas are well protected but the hope is that elephants can thrive even in unprotected areas.

Human conflict restricted tourist movement to specific parts of Sri Lanka until fairly recently. Now that the Island is at peace it has opened up all of this beautiful island. The popular destinations remain but there are also national parks that should become increasingly popular with visitors keen to see the Island’s fauna, including its elephants, in a natural environment. It is a real bonus for Sri Lanka that wildlife tourists are continually looking for new places to pursue their passion and some of the Country’s National Parks are effectively falling into that category.

Elephants and Sri Lankan Culture

Esala Perahara -Image Courtesy |Richard Shaw

The power of the elephants and is susceptibility to learning made the elephant an excellent ‘workhorse’ for Man and over the years it has been used extensively on various projects. It has also resulted in its use in religious processions and nothing illustrates this better than the Kandy Esala Perahera in July or August each year.

Perahera is a festival in homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha which is housed in the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy. The highly colourful procession has dancers and musicians; without elephants adorned in garments the procession would lose much of its impact. Its early origins date back to 3rd Century BC when the Tooth Relic came from India. In the 18th Century the tooth was seen as the property of the King but it was agreed that the public could see it in a procession. Subsequently in colonial times, the Relic was placed under the guardianship of the Buddhist clergy. The Festival lasts several days and on the 6th day a casket, a substitute of the Tooth Relic, is carried by the Maligawa Elephant at the head of a procession. This is the major event of the year in Kandy and shows how closely man and elephant have become linked.

Types of Elepahnts

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Image CourtesyAmila Tennakoon

Back in prehistoric times there were in fact 350 different species of elephants; there are now just two, African and Asian, but within the two there are different types, 2 in Africa, 3 in Asia. In Africa the Savannah Elephant is far larger than the Forest Elephant, four metres and seven tonnes is perfectly possible in the former. In Asia there are the grey Sri Lankan (Elephas Maximus Maximus), the lighter grey Mainland (Elephas Maximus Indicus) and very light grey Sumatran Elephants (Elephas Maximus Sumatranus). The Asian Elephant is smaller, with a double bulged forehead, smaller ears than its African cousin and the females have no tusks. Even some males have no tusks and even when they do they are much smaller than those in Africa.
Another thing that differentiates the two is the level of intelligence. The Asian has superior intelligence which has been a factor in its interaction with Man. It can easily be trained.
Man’s demand for ivory remains a major concern although there are still significant elephant numbers in Africa; perhaps 500,000. However the elephant is now considered endangered with Asian numbers now perhaps as low as 30,000. Thailand now has just a few thousand in the wild while the tame ones used as tourist attractions show the extent to which elephants have been exploited in that country. The fortunate statistic with regard to the Sri Lankan Elephant is that very few have ivory yet the species is still endangered.

 

African Elephant-  Image Courtesy |Megan Coughlin

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