Udawalawe National Park was created in 1972 to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe Ganga, as well as to protect the catchment of the reservoir. Udawalawe covers 30,821 hectares of land and lies on the boundary of Sri Lanka’s wet and dry zones.
Udawalawe is an important habitat for Sri Lankan elephants, which are relatively easy 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. Other mammals also inhabit the park are Rusty-spotted Cat, Fishing Cat, Leopard, Axis and Barking Deer, Wild Boar, Water Buffalo Golden Jackal, Asian palm Civet, there species of Mongoose, Toque Macaque, Tufted Grey Languor and Black- naped Hare
Udawalawe is a good birdwatching site. Endemics such as Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Brown-capped Babbler, and Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl are among of the breeding resident birds. White Wagtail and Black-capped Kingfisher are rare migrants. A variety of water birds visit the reservoir, including Cormorants, the Spot-billed Pelican, Asian Openbill, Painted Stork, Black-headed Ibis and Eurasian Spoonbill. The open parkland attracts birds of prey such as White-bellied Sea Eagle, Crested Serpent-eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle,Booted Eagle, and Changeable Hawk-eagle. Landbirds are in abundance, and include Indian Roller, Indian Peafowl, Malabar Pied Hornbill and Pied Cuckoo.
Reptiles and Fish
Oriental Garden Lizards, Painted-lip Lizards, Mugger Crocodiles, Water Monitors, Bengal Monitors and 30 species of snake are found in the park. A variety of endemic fish species and over 135 species of butterflies are found in the park.
The park is mainly thorny-shrub jungle with grasslands. The savannah grasslands are dominated by Mana, Illuk and pohon. There are remnants of the Teak plantations that were planted during the time the Uda Walawe Reservoir was built. In the riverine forest Kumbuk and the endemic mandorang trees are dominant.