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Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park, at 1,316 km2, is the largest national park in Sri Lanka. The park lies on the north-west coast, 30 km west of Anuradhapura, and extends to the border between North Western Province and North Central Province. The main topographical feature in this park is the patchwork of villus or lakes after which the area is named and that best expresses the unique attributes of Wilpattu.

The area was declared a Sanctuary in 1905 and upgraded to National Park status on 25 February 1938. Wilpattu North Sanctuary was added on 7 November 1947. Much legend and history is associated with the park and its surrounding: Vijaya, son of North Indian Sinha (lion) king, landed at Kudrimalai (Horse Point) in 543 B.C. and lived with Kuveni, the jungle princess, whose palace lies in ruins at Kali Villu.

Three types of vegetation can be noticed in the park: littoral vegetation including tall grass and scrubs; monsoon bushes and scrubs of very low stature; and further inland, monsoon forest with large trees including Palu, Satin, Ebony and Weera. A total of 31 species of mammals, including elephant, sloth bear, leopard, spotted deer, wild pig, and wild buffalo have been recorded in the park. Dugong occurs in Dutch and Portugal bays adjacent to the park. The villus support a variety of resident and migratory birds, including painted stork, open billed stork, hornbill, egret and tern.