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Wilpattu National Park

Puttalam, West Coast, Sri Lanka.
Location : Puttalam
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Overview
Wilpattu national park, being the largest wilderness park in Sri lanka, spans over 500 square miles. The park is located 30km west of Anuradhapura and bordered by the Modaragam aru in the south the Kala Oya in the north and is bordered by the Indian Ocean in the west. Though Villpattu has been closed for several years due to the civil war, it is now opened for visitors. The distinctive characteristic of the park is the existence of villus (shallow lakes).

The other main topographical features in Willpattu are sand-rimmed freshwater lakes, open grasslands, dry-lowland forests, scrublands, and coastal belt which are immensely contributing for the wellbeing of the diverse wildlife in the park. These are the places where the animals and birds are mostly seen.

Inter-monsoonal rain in March and the northeast monsoon (December – February) are the main sources of rainfall since the park is located in dry zone of the country. Minimum annual rainfall is about 1000 mm whereas the minimum annual temperature is about 270 C.

Although the herds of wild boars, deer, bear, and water buffalos are the animals that commonly seen, the park is renowned habitat of leopards as well. The elephants are less frequent compared to Yala and Udawalawa national parks. Painted storks, white ibis, open bills, Whistling teals, spoonbills, cormorants, kingfishers, serpent eagles, great racket tail Drongo, Malabar pied hornbills, crested hawk eagles and Sri Lankan jungle fowl are some birds who inhabit the park. Moreover both water monitors and mugger crocodiles can be seen in the villus.

Willpattu is adorned with dry zonal foliage such as Palu (Manilkara hexandra), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria), Satin (Chloroxylon swietenia), Milla (Vitex altissima), Ebony (Diospyros ebenum) and Wewarana (Alseodaphne semecaprifolia).

In addition to the ecological value, this land has got an archeological significance too. The Ancient harbour at the foot of the Mount Kudremalai which lies adjoining to the park, is the place where the Prince Vijaya and his followers or the first settlers from India, are believed to have landed. Vijaya is considered the founder of Sinhalese race.
 

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