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Anawilundawa Sanctuary

Chilaw, West Coast, Sri Lanka.
Location : Chilaw
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Overview
The Anawilundawa wetland sanctuary is 1400 hectare land that lies between the North western coast line and the Negombo Puttalam railway line, in the Puttalam District of Sri Lanka. This sanctuary was declared a Ramsar site in 2001, since it consists of high biodiversity and harbours a large number of resident and migratory waterfowls. 

The outstanding feature of Anawlundawa is its manmade reservoir system which traces back to 12th century as they were built by king Parakrambahu the Great. The system consists of seven small interconnected cascading reservoirs namely, Pinkattiya, Wellawela, Maradansole, Irrakkawala/ IhalaWewa, Anawilundawa, Suruwila and Maiyawa. These tanks irrigate the cultivations around the area and provide an ideal habitat for avifauna. There are three main types of ecosystems found in the wetland such as Freshwater wetland systems, Brackish water wetland systems and Terrestrial and Agricultural systems.  Seasonally flooded areas of Maiyawa tank, Suruwila tank, Anawilundawa tank and Forest patch situated east to the waterway from Pahiniemba to Anawilundawa tank are categorized as biodiversity hotspots in Anawilundawa.

264 plant species that vary as 110 woody plant species, 54 shrub species, 68 herbaceous plant species, 30 species of climbers and two species of epiphytes have been recognized within the vegetation of Anawilundawa. The terrestrial habitats are dominated by shrubs and medicinal plants. Anawilundawa houses 39% of the native inland vertebrate fauna that figure up to 237 species. Ten species of the native vertebrates are endemic to Sri Lanka.
 Waders, Gulls and Terns, Ducks, Herons, Egrets and Storks, Cormorants and Kingfishers are the frequently seen wetland birds where as Forest birds like Woodpeckers, Barbets, Pigeons, Raptors, as well as Scrubland and Grassland birds occur in the sanctuary. There are numerous winter migrants who inhabit here as well. Sandpipers, Plovers, Terns, Gulls and Ducks are few of them. Moreover 29 species of freshwater fish, 18 species of brackish water fish and 9 species of amphibians have been recorded in the sanctuary. The reptilian fauna of Anawilundawa include the Flapshell Turtle (Lissemyspunctata), the Star Tortoise (Geocheloneelegans) Cobra (Najanaja), Skinks and Geckoes (Hemidactylusfrenatus), Green Vine Snake (Ahaetullanasutus).  20 species of mammals including Black-naped Hare, Mouse deer, the fishing cat, rusty spotted cat, Mongoose, jackal and occasionally seen small herd of elephants, too recorded from this place.

The escalating settlements around Anawilundawa and their source of living such as paddy cultivations, freshwater fisheries and animal husbandry have a dreadful impact on these worthy ecosystems either directly or indirectly.
 
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