Uda Walawe National Park

Uda Walawe was designated a national park in 1972, as part of a River Valley Development Project that included the construction of Uda Walawe Reservoir. A second reservoir, the Mau Ara, was contructed within the National Park in in 1998.

The National Park was established primarily to protect the immediate catchment of Uda Walawe Reservoir, while also providing a refuge for displaced elephants. It is strategically located, providing a link to elephant populations further east, via low development areas, in Lunugumvehera and in the north towards Kaltota, Kosland and Haldummulla. Lying in the dry zone, conditions are characterized by uniformly high temperatures, seasonal rainfall and long dry spell.

The total extent of the National Park is 32,315 ha and encompasses Uda Walawe Reservoir, which accounts for 3,405 ha at full capacity. The National Park comprises the lower and immediate catchments of the Reservoir and parts of Mau Ara basin to the east.

The vegetation comprises old-growth Dry-Mixed Evergreen Forest, the climax forest formation of the dry zone, and its successional stages. The major vegetation types are Dry-Mixed Evergreen Forest, riverine forest along Walawe River, savanna, scrub, and grassland. The extensive tall grassland (Guinea grass) and covering over 30% of the National Park.

The diverse mosaic of habitats supports an important and comparatively rich diversity of vertebrate species, given its location in the dry zone. The National Park is renowned for its large elephant population, which attracts large numbers of visitors because elephants can be viewed readily, especially in the open grassland habitat. Less easily seen but quite often spotted along the road side at all times of day is the jungle cat. The avifauna is rich and diverse in species, especially common indigenous birds, including many species of raptors and many species of wetland birds owing to the presence of two large reservoirs and many seasonal and permanent water bodies.

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