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Udawalawe National Park-Sri Lanka

Udawalawe National Park-Sri Lanka

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Uda Wlawe National Park largely comprises the lower and the immediate catchments of Uda Walawa Reservoir and some parts of Mau Ara basin on the east. This PA falls within Rathnapura District in Sabaragamuwa Province and Moneragala District in Southern Province. The area to the west bank of alawe Ganga is within Rathnapura District and that on the east bank of within the district of Moneragala. Uda Wlawe National Park is located approximately between the latitudes 60 25’ and 60 35’N and longitudes 800 45’ and 810 00’E.

This protected area comprises wholly of the Uda Walawe National Park as declared by Government Gazette Notification No: 14 of 30/06/1972 (Appendix 1). However , as per Government decision an area of approximately 3,000 hectare along its western boundary (as already re demarcated) is shortly to be de notified whereas approximately 3,500 hectare area along its eastern boundary (presently being re demarcated) is to be included in the Uda Wlawe National Park by a fresh Gazette notification.
The total existing area of Uda Wlawe National Park is 32,315 hectare (323.15 sq km) whereas upon the reconstitution mentioned in a Para 1.1.3 above taking effect its extent will become approximately 32,815 hectare (328.15 sq km). This plan is for the reconstituted area. A significant of the Uda Wlawe National Park is occupied by the Uda Walawe multipurpose reservoir while the rest is and the dry land. Besides this reservoir which at full capacity occupies 3405 hectare, there are numerous small tanks, most of them defunct, within the PA. The dry land of the reconstituted NP included these smaller tanks is approximately 29,410 hectare.
Approach and Access
The main entrance to the Uda Wlawe National Park is situated at the 7th mile post on Uda Walawe – Thanamalwila road. It can be reached from Colombo via Rathnapura, Pelmadulla and Uda Walawe junction along Palmadulla – Embilipitiya road.The total travel time from Colombo is approximately four hours. The Uda Wlawe National Park also can be reached from Colombo through Hambanthota via Thanamalwila.

The Statement of Significance

Uda Walawe National Park is next only in popularity to Yala National Park in the Southern Region. Elephants can usually be observed even at mid-day. Availability of water, during the driest periods, also accounts for such visibility. Conservation of wildlife, especially elephant and of the immediate catchment of the Uda Walawe Reservoir are the twin purpose for the setting up of Uda Wlawe National Park. From elephant conservation angle it has a resident population of about 150 with more animals ranging in during the dry season from habitats to the east and north of Uda Wlawe. On the eastern side it still has a tenuous corridor link with the Lunugamvehera National Park and through the latter with the Yala National Park. Department of Wild Life Conservation is presently implementing an electrically fenced corridor from Uda Wlawe National Park’s eastern boundary to Lunugamvehera National Park. It is also linked with elephant habitats in Kalthota, Koslanda and Haldumulla areas from the north. To its east by north-east lies a large habitat chunk of over 200 sq km extent in the Kuda Oya basin (Kirindi Oya System) which is being considered as a new national park. Corridor links with this still survive but they are under pressure of encroachment for cultivation. Therefore, this Park is highly significant for long-term elephant conservation. Besides the elephant, recent investigations have recorded 21 species of fish (1 endemic-E and threatened-T), 12 species of amphibians (3 E+ T), 18 species of snakes (2 E / 7 T), 15 species of tetra pod reptiles (6 E / 10 T), 184 species of birds (8 E / 12 T) and 39 species of mammals (3 E / 15 T). Of the scores of plant species recorded, 3 are endemic and one is considered as threatened (i.e. Mandora-Hopea cordifolia). As such the site score from the bio-diversity point of view is quite high, despite the much degraded vegetation cover. There are pockets of natural Intermediate Zone forest, stripes of riparian forests and some pockets where natural succession in advancing. All these constitute significant biodiversity pockets.
One other significance of this park is that it forms the immediate catchment of Uda Walawe reservoir which provides water to a command area of 32,000 hectare of paddy and sugarcane land and has the potential to generate 6 MW of hydro-electricity. At full supply level, the tank covers about 3400 hectare and the maximum depth is then about 20m at the dam site. The reservoir has been made to provide irrigation to 12,000 hectare on the rivers right bank and 20,000 hectare on the left bank. The park was established to conserve wildlife and forest as well as protect the immediate upstream catchment from erosion. After its declaration the much degraded vegetation is slowly recovering and but for this park, the whole immediate catchment would have been cleared risking catchment degradation and siltation of the reservoir. At the time of the park demarcation, there were many settlements inside the area concerned and a major part of the Park was cleared for shifting cultivation. Most of the high forest was practically destroyed, what remained of the forest was the forest areas associated with Rock Knob Plains and shallow soil areas that were unsuitable for agriculture

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