LAHUGALA KITULANA NATIONAL PARK
This park is one of Sri Lanka's smallest but most valuable conservation areas for elephants and endemic birds.
Park lies in the basin of the Heda Oya, 16km inland from the coastal town of Pottuvil in Eastern Province. The Pottuvil Moneragala trunk road runs through the south eastern sector of the park.
The route would be the same as the approach to Yala East National Park from Colombo. The routes fork off at Pelmadulla and meet again at Wellawaya, one going via Beragala, Koslanda and the other via Thirnbolketiya, Udawalawe and Thanamalwila. From Wellawaya the route would be via Moneragala. It is approximately 318km from Colombo. The park office is situated at Lahugala.
The terrain is flat with occasional rock outcrops. The park features three tanks, Lahugala (243ha), Kitulana and Sengamuwa, which ultimately drain into the Heda Oya. These tanks are largely silted up and support an abundance of beru grass. The area of the park is 1,554ha.
Mean annual rainfall is 1650 mm. There are two dry periods, from May to October and from mid-January to March. The north- east monsoon lasts from November to the end of December.
Date and History of Establishment :
The area was declared as a sanctuary on 01st July 1966 upgraded to national park on 31st October 1980.
Nearby is the historic site of Magulmahavihara, built for the occasion of King Kavantissas's marriage to Viharamaha Devi
Lying in the dry zone, the vegetation surrounding the tanks is dry mixed evergreen forest with scrubs. Common species include weera Drypetes s~iaria, palu Manilkara hexandra, halmilla Berrya cordifiolia, milIa Vitex pinnata, satin Chloroxylon swietenia and ehela Cassia fistula. Beru Sacciopelsis interrupta, a tall reedy grass, covers the tanks. Rivers are fringed by gallery forest.
Lahugala is traditionally used as a feeding ground by elephants Elephas maximus. Herds of up to 150, attracted by the beru grass, were a common sight at Lahugala tank during the period of July to August. Other mammals include endemic toque macaque Macaca sinica, common langur Presbyteis entellus, sloth bear Melursus ursinus, jackal Canis aureus, rusty spotted cat Felis rubiginosa, fishing cat F. viverrina, leopard Panthera pardus kotiya, wild boar Sus scrofa, Indian muntjac Muntiacus muntjak, spotted deer
Axix axis ceylonensis, sambar Cervus unicolor, pangolin Manis crassicaudata and black naped hare Lepus nigricollis.
The avifauna is diverse and includes .a variety of waterfowl, and the usual dry zone forest birds. Wetland species include pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus, purple heron Ardea purpurea, painted stork Mycteria leucocephala, lesser adjutant stork Leptoptilos javanicus, teal Anas sp., white bellied sea eagle Haliaetus leucogaster, grey headed fishing eagle Ichthyophaga icthyaetus, common kingfisher Alcedo at this,. stork billed kingfisher Halcyon capensis and white breasted kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis. The last recorded sighting of comb duck Sarkidiornis melanotos, now thought to be an extinct species in Sri Lanka, was found at Lahugala. Other birds include the rare red-faced malkoha Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus and the endemic Sri Lanka spurfowl Galloperdix bicalcarata.
Amphibians include frogs such as the endemic Bufo athukoralei, Rana limnocharis, Rhacophorus maculatu, Kaloula pulchra and Microphyla rubra. Noteworthy reptiles include python Python molurus, rat snake Pytas mucosus, flying snakes Chrysopelea spp., cat snakes Bioga spp., whip snakes Dryophis spp., and Russell's viper Daboia russellii.
Visitors and Visitor Facilities :
At present, accommodation can be found at Pottuvil, 23km away from park. Yet the park is closed for visitors due to the insecurity situation of the area.
Information by- Department of Wildlife Conservation