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Published: September 20th 2017
Day 11: Thursday 14 September - Udawalawe National Park
Today we head to the neighbouring Udawalawe National Park. With herds of elephants, wild buffalo, sambar deer and leopards, Uda Walawe National Park is the Sri Lankan national park that best rivals the savannah reserves of Africa. In fact, for elephant watching, Uda Walawe often surpasses many of the most famous East African national parks.
Here we visit the Elephant Transit Home located in Udawalawe National Park, where abandoned baby elephants are cared for before they are released into the Udawalawe National Park. Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home is a refuge for baby elephants, the majority of which have been affected by the tragic elephant – human conflict (when mothers are often separated from their young or even killed). This incredible project provides food, medical care, and anything else a baby elephant needs before being released back into the wild when mature enough.
We were fascinated while watching all the elephants of different ages being fed, some by bottle, some by long tube and funnel and some could use their trunks
for drinking. They then had a feed of leaves.
Udawalawe National Park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe River, as well as to protect the catchment of the reservoir. The reserve covers 30,821 hectares of land area and was established on 30 June 1972. Before the designation of the national park, the area was used for shifting cultivation (chena farming). The farmers were gradually removed once the national park was declared. The park is 165 kilometres from Colombo. Udawalawe is an important habitat for water birds and Sri Lankan (Asian) elephants. It is a popular tourist destination and the third most visited park in the country.
The habitat surrounding at the reservoir includes marshes, the Walawe river and its tributaries, forests and grasslands. Dead trees standing in the reservoir are visual reminders of the extent of forest cover before the construction of the Udawalawe Dam.
Species recorded from the park include 94 plants, 21 fish, 12 amphibians, 33 reptiles, 184 birds (33 of which are migratory), and 43 mammals. Additionally, 135 species of butterflies are among the
invertebrates found in Udawalawe.
The park is capable of sustaining a large herd of Sri Lankan elephants
Udawalawe is an important habitat for elephants, which are relatively hard to see in its open habitats. Many elephants are attracted to the park because of the Udawalawe reservoir, with a herd of about 250 believed to be permanently resident.
We saw several beautiful Painted storks which are among the many water birds that migrate to the park
We also saw a variety of water birds, including cormorants, the spot-billed pelican, Asian openbill, black-headed ibis and Eurasian spoonbill.
The open parkland attracts birds of prey such as white-bellied sea eagle, , booted eagle, and changeable hawk-eagle. Land birds are in abundance, and include Indian roller, Indian peafowl, Malabar pied hornbill and pied cuckoo.
At one of the water holes, we even saw 11 crocodiles.
Before returning to our accommodation (Yala Adventure – which was the worst accommodation of the whole trip. All others had been fantastic), we stopped at a lovely restaurant and had the coldest Lion beer, served by a very
happy, smiling man. This was following by a lovely dinner.
It had been another great day.
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