Lunugamvehera National Park

After being closed due to the insecurities associated with the Sri Lankan civil war, Lunugamvehera National Park is now re-opened to the general public.

Protecting the immediate catchment area of the Lunugamvehera reservoir, the park serves as a link between the Yala Protected Area Comples to its east, and Udawalawe National Park to its west, facilitating the ranging of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) to and from areas such as Haldummula and Kosland in Uva Province and the southern region of Sri Lanka.

Lying in the dry zone, conditions in the park are characterised by an annual drought coinciding with the south-west monsoon. The park contains vast featureless gently undulating plains, with rock-knob plains generally occupying the slightly more elevated areas to the south. Established on the 8th December 1995, the park covers a total area of 23,498 hectares with a significant area of the park (14%) occupied by the Lunugamvehera reservoir.

The vegetation includes different stages of forest succession along with scrub/grasslands mosaics. The shifting cultivation (chena) has caused degradation of the forest communities to open thorny shrub and grassland communities, whilst the dense forest which is dry mixed evergreen, is dominated by weera (Drypetes sepiaria), palu (Manilkara hexandra), kon (Schleichera oleosa) and hik (Lannea coromandelica).

Twenty one fish species, 12 amphibians, 33 reptiles, 184 birds and 43 mammal species have been recorded in Lunugamvehera National Park. The teak plantations which are found within the park boundary are frequented by elephants, whilst other areas are home to domestic feral and wild buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) and palm squirrel (Funambulua palmarum), giant squirrel (Ratufa macroua), porcupine (Hystrix indica), palm cat (Paradoxurus hemiphoditus), wild boar (Sus scrofa), mouse deer (Tragulus meminna) and spotted deer (Axis axis ceylonensis). Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) and leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) are present but found in low densities.

Lunugamvehera National Park can be reached from your hotel in Tissamaharama or Kataragama. Check out Tree Tops Jungle Safaris, Chaaya Wild, and The Safari hotel for options.

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