Lunugamwehera National Park
The Lunugamwehera National Park is located within Thanamalwila, Wellawaya, Kataragama and Buttala in Moneragla district and Lunugamvenara in Hambantota District.
The physiographic of the park is distinguished by a vast featureless smoothly fluctuation plain with rock knob plain usually occupying the slightly elevated ranges in the south. The entire area of the park is 23,498ha. The Lunugamvehera reservoir holds a significant space in the park. Therefore the total dry region of the park is 20,156.8ha. The average yearly rainfall at Thanamalwila is around 1000mm, and the rain in the parking region decreases from north to south and west to east. The annual average temperature is about 30ºC.
The vegetation covers different stages of forest sequence along with scrub, grasslands miscellanies. However, the shifting cultivation has caused degradation of the forest communities to open thorny shrub and grassland communities.
Twenty-one (21) species, 12 amphibians, 33 reptiles, 184 birds and 43 mammals were reported.
Read More in Details
Features of Lunugamvehera National Park
In the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka, Lunugamvehera National Park experiences annual droughts alleviated by the southwestern monsoon. The park spans an elevation of 91 meters (299 feet) and covers a total land area of 23,498 hectares. The reservoir occupies approximately 14 per cent (3,283 hectares) of the park's land, while two smaller pools cover an additional 50 hectares. Rainfall distribution within the park decreases from north to south and west to east, with the nearby Thanamalvila receiving an average of 1,000 millimetres (39 inches) of annual rainfall. Lunugamvehera's yearly mean temperature stands at 30°C (86°F).
Flora of Lunugamvehera National Park
The forest within Lunugamvehera National Park boasts a diverse composition characterized by several layers. It consists of a mosaic of scrubland and grassland, creating a unique habitat for various plant species. Notable flora found in the park includes Drypetes septaria, Manilkara hexandra, Schleichera oleosa, Lannea coromandel, Diospyros ovalifolia, Polyalthia korinti, Carmona microphylla, Croton lacteous, and Coffea wightiana. In addition, the grassland areas are adorned with species such as Chloris Montana, Cynodon dactylon, Panicum maximum, Imperata cylindrical, Lantana camara, Chromolaena odorata, Mimosa pudica, Carmona microphylla, and Securinega leucocytes. Teak and eucalyptus plantations have become increasingly common within the park's boundaries.
Fauna of Lunugamvehera National Park
Lunugamvehera National Park supports diverse wildlife, including 21 fish species, 12 amphibians, 33 reptiles, 183 bird species, and 43 mammals. Among the mammals that call the park home are the Sri Lankan elephant, water buffalo, Sri Lankan sambar deer, wild boar, Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain, grizzled giant squirrel, Sri Lankan axis deer, and Asian palm civet. The forest also harbours several endemic amphibians, such as Bufo atukoralei and Fejervarya pulla. Additionally, Lunugamvehera is home to various bird species, including the grey heron, black-headed ibis, Asian openbill, painted stork, and spot-billed pelican. The aquatic reptile population includes the mugger crocodile.
Conservation Efforts and Importance
Lunugamvehera National Park is vital in safeguarding the catchment area that maintains the water levels of five downstream tanks along the Kirindi Oya River. It also helps preserve the wetland characteristics of nearby Bundala National Park. Furthermore, the park serves as an important corridor for the migration of elephants between Yala National Park and Udawalawe National Park. These conservation efforts ensure the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem and protect endangered species.
Visiting Lunugamvehera National Park
After a period of closure due to the Sri Lankan civil war, Lunugamvehera National Park has reopened to the general public. Visitors can now explore the park's natural wonders and enjoy exciting safari experiences. The park offers abundant wildlife viewing opportunities, including the chance to witness majestic elephants in their natural habitat. In addition, several safari tour operators provide guided excursions within the park, allowing visitors to observe the diverse flora and fauna up close. Accommodations and facilities, such as lodges and camping sites, are available nearby to ensure a comfortable tourist stay.
Challenges and Future Initiatives
Balancing tourism with conservation efforts is a significant challenge Lunugamvehera National Park faces. Steps are underway to manage visitor numbers and promote responsible tourism practices. Community involvement and awareness programs are crucial in raising awareness about the park's ecological importance and garnering local support for conservation initiatives. Additionally, plans include sustainable development strategies, research programs, and collaborations with local communities to ensure the long-term protection and preservation of the park's natural resources.
Lunugamvehera National Park in Sri Lanka is a testament to its commitment to preserving its natural heritage. With its diverse flora and fauna, the park offers a unique and enriching experience for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. The park's reopening to the public has allowed visitors to explore its wonders and contribute to its conservation. By striking a balance between sustainable tourism and ecological preservation, Lunugamvehera National Park continues to thrive as a sanctuary for wildlife and a vital water catchment area.
- Can I see elephants in Lunugamvehera National Park? Yes, Lunugamvehera National Park is home to a population of elephants, offering visitors the opportunity to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
- What is the best time to visit the park? The best time to visit Lunugamvehera National Park is during the dry season, from February to July when wildlife sightings are more frequent due to animals congregating around water sources.
- Are there any accommodations available inside the park? Currently, there are no accommodations available inside the park. However, there are various lodging options, including lodges and camping sites, located near the park.
- How can I contribute to the conservation of the park? You can contribute to the preservation of Lunugamvehera National Park by practising responsible tourism, respecting park regulations, and supporting local conservation initiatives and organizations.
- Can I book a safari tour in advance? Yes, booking a safari tour in advance is advisable to ensure availability. Several tour operators offer guided safari experiences in Lunugamvehera National Park, allowing you to explore the park's wildlife and natural beauty.