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 Complex to its east, and Udawalawe National Park to its west, facilitating the ranging of Asian elephants to and from areas such as Haldummula and Koslanda 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 and featureless, gently undulating plains, with rock-knob plains generally occupying the slightly more elevated areas to the south. Established on the 8th December 1995, it covers a total area of 23,498 hectares with a significant amount of land (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, palu, kon and hik.
21 fish species, 12 amphibians, 33 reptiles, 184 birds and 43 mammal species have been recorded in the 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 and palm squirrel, giant squirrel, porcupine, palm cat, wild boar, mouse deer and spotted deer. Sloth bear and leopard 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 as a great hotel option.