Safari in Wilpattu National Park
The Wilpattu National Park is located on the west coast close to the ancient city of Anuradhapura. It was declared a sanctuary in 1905 and upgraded to National Park status in 1938. The jungle is dry zonal and fairly thick intersected by flood plain lakes. An interesting topographical feature is the abundance of villus, or natural lake-like basins which dot the landscape here. These are of importance to resident and migratory water-birds.
The history of the park is interesting as ancient ruins have been discovered here. Queen Kuweni (considered to be the mother of the Sinhalese race – as it is out of her marriage to the first king of Sri Lanka, that its people were born) is said to have lived in the place known as Kalli Villu. There is evidence that Prince Saliya, son of King Dutugemunu (an ancient king of Sri Lanka from 161 to 137 BC) lived in Wilpattu over 2,000 years ago. Ancient urns have been excavated in Pomparippu which borders the Park. Between the villages of Palangaturai and Kollankanatte are the remains of an old harbour.
Fauna and Flora in the Wilpattu National Park Sri Lanka
There are 30 recorded species of mammals in the Wilpattu National Park. These include the Sri Lankan Elephant, Sri Lankan Leopard, Sri Lankan Sloth Bear, Spotted deer, Water Buffalo, Sambar, Mongoose, Mouse and Shrew. Visitors flock to the Park mostly in the hope of seeing the Leopard and the Sloth Bears. The Sri Lankan Sloth Bear is a highly threatened species with less than a 1000 numbers surviving in the wild.
Wetland bird species found in the Wilpattu National Park include the Garganey, Pin Tail, Whistling Teal, Spoonbill, White Ibis, Large White Egret, Cattle Egret and Purple Heron. In addition, many species of Terns, Gulls, Owls, Buzzards, Kites and Eagles are easily spotted. The endemic Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Little Cormorant and the Painted Stork can also be observed on safari.
The most common reptiles found in Wilpattu are the Monitor Lizard, Mugger Crocodile, Common Cobra, Rat Snake, Indian Python, Pond Turtle and the Soft-Shelled Turtle which can be spotted inside the Park’s numerous villus.
Floral species include Palu (Manilkara hexandra), and Satin (Chloroxylon swietenia), Milla (Vitex altissima), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria), Ebony (Diospyros ebenum) and Wewarna (Alseodaphne semecapriflolia). Three distinct types of vegetation are prominent – salt grass and stunted shrub bordering the coastal area, a coastal strip of approximately 3 to 6 miles of monsoon scrub and dense monsoon forests further inland.