WILPATTU NATIONAL PARK IN SRI LANKA

Wilpattu National Park is located 180 km north of Colombo, bordering the north western coast of the country and is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka. It is also the oldest with a rich historical past behind it. According to chronological accounts it is believed that Prince Vijaya (who came from East India in 543 BC and landed in Sri Lanka by accident) at Thambapanni near Mannar, now known as Kudrimale Point (Horse Point) was the founder of the Sinhalese nation. He is known to have married Kuweni a local tribal princess, the remains of whose palace can still be seen at Kali Villu, situated within the park.

Wilpattu can be reached by travelling from Colombo to Puttlam on the A3 road and there onwards on the Puttalam Anuradhapura A12 road or via Kurunegala, from the North Western Province of the country,

The entire area of the park amounts to 131,693 hectares, of which the main block or zone as it is referred to, is bordered by the Indian Ocean in contrast to the smaller zones which are landlocked. The uniqueness of Wilpattu is its many “Willus” (natural lakes) which amounting to over 50 forms an intricate network of waterways that are found extensively spread around the park. The source of water is the inter-monsoonal rains in March and the northeast monsoons (December to February).

Packed with exciting wildlife, Wilpattu is waiting to be explored! The varying habitats have attracted many species of wildlife, both resident and migrant. 31 species of mammals have been identified; some of them being Leopard (a favorite amongst visitors), Sloth Bear, Elephant, Spotted and Barking Deer, Sambur, Wild Boar and even Crocks. It is also home to an abundance of endemic birdlife such as the Jungle Fowl, Painted Stork, Owl, Terns, Gulls, Eagles, Heron and the winter migrants who home for short periods within the nature reserve. Butterflies such as the Blue and Common Mormons, Common Rose and Crimson Rose amongst many other species can be seen vividly fluttering around. On top of the list of reptiles is the Mugger Crocodile followed by Monitor Lizards, Python, Cobra, Rat Snake along with Star Tortoise, Pond turtle and Soft shelled Turtle amongst many others.

Wildlife in Wilpattu
There are approximately 30 species of mammals in the Wilpattu National Park which include the Sri Lankan Elephant, Sri Lankan Leopard, Lankan Sloth Bear, Sri, Spotted Deer, Buffalo, Sambar and Mongoose.

Birdlife in Wilpattu
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. Also, many species of Gulls, Terns, Owls, Kites and Eagles are also lives here. The endemic Sri Lanka Jungle fowl, Little Cormorant and the Painted Stork can also Can be seen.

Reptiles and Amphibians in Wilpattu
Monitor Lizard, Mugger Crocodile, Common Cobra, Rat Snake, Indian Python, Pond Turtle and the Soft Shelled Turtle can be seen in Wilpattu National Park.

Flora in Wilpattu .
Wilpattu is home for many species of flora and they are Palu (Manilkara hexandra), Satin (Chloroxylon swietenia), Milla (Vitex altissima), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria), Ebony (Diospyros ebenum) and Wewarna (Alseodaphne semecarpifolia).

Climate in Wilpattu
The annual temperature in the Park is between 27°C to 30°C and its annual rainfall is approximately 900 mm. The Wilpattu National Park is situated in the dry zone but most of the time flora is very greenish and has plenty of water sources. The period between September to December is the rainy season while inter-monsoonal rains are expected between March to May. The period of drought in the Park extends from June to early September.

How to reach Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu is located 30 kms north of Puttalam, approximately 190 kms from Colombo. Wilpattu National Park extends from the northwest coast towards inland ancient capital city of Anuradhapura which is about 50 km to the east of the Park, covering 425 sq miles approximately. The route from Colombo is via Negombo, Chilaw, Palaviya and Puttalam, The Park office and the main entrance where one can obtain a ticket and enter the park is at Hunuwilgama, 7 km from the turn-off from Puttalam - Anuradhapura road

The best times to visit the Wilpattu National Park
Though this National Park can be visited throughout the year, February to October is the prime time.