'Lunugamvehera National Park | Sunday Observer

'Lunugamvehera National Park

23 January, 2022

The sight of peacocks is considered a great blessing to the thousands of people from all over Sri Lanka, who flock to Kataragama to pay homage to the deity. This is because the peacock is considered to be the vehicle of God Kataragama. Many devotees may see a path full of peacocks at the site of the devale or in its vicinity.

The Lunugamvehera National Park close to Kataragama is another place where you can see a large number of peacocks at any time of the day. The catchment area of the Lunugamvehera reservoir has been named as the Lunugamvehera National Park. Lunugamvehera is in the inter-zone between the Udawalawe National Park in the west and the Ruhuna National Park in the East.

The Lunugamvehera National Park functions as an elephant crossing between the Haldummulla-Koslanda area in the Tissa-Uva Province and the southern part of Sri Lanka. It is spread over an area of 23,498 hectares bordering the Lunugamvehera Divisional Secretariat area in the Hambantota District and the Thanamalwila, Wellawaya and Buttala Divisional Secretariat areas in the Moneragala District.


About 14 percent of the park is taken up by the reservoir. The total capacity of this reservoir is 3.283 hectares. Other small reservoirs in the vicinity are spread over 50 hectares approximately. The total land area of Lunugamvehera National Park is about 20,156 hectares.

The area around the Lunugamvehera Reservoir was declared a National Park on December 8, 1995.

The Lunugamvehera National Park office is at Lunugamvehera on the Wellawaya – Hambantota Road.

If you are coming from Colombo via Ratnapura you have to turn at Pelmadulla and pass Udawalawe and Thanamalwila to reach Lunugamvehera. Or you can travel from Colombo via Hambantota, Tissamaharama and Thanamalwila to reach the Lunugamvehera National Park.

Due to its location in the Hambantota district in the arid zone of Sri Lanka, the Lunugamvehera Park has a drier climate and receives less rain from the South- west monsoon. This park covers mainly an area of gently undulating plains with rock knob plains in the slightly elevated areas in the South. The park is at an average elevation of about 91km (299 ft) above sea level. The highest point here is Sittara. The average annual rainfall at Thanamalwila is about 1,000mm. The rainfall in the park decreases from North to South and from west to east in the park.

Flora and fauna

The Lunugamvehera National Park is rich in flora and fauna as well as thorn bushes and grasses. Due to continuous deforestation the forest is being transformed into a mere thorny and grassy environment. Among the main plants in this park and which are included in the dry mixed evergreen forest species are weera, palu, koth, hik, kirikoth, ulkenda and kunumella. Maya urana, durvanthana, ginithana, nidikumba and katupila can be found mainly with grasses and shrubs.

Teak and eucalyptus are found where there are abandoned lands. Twenty-one species of fish, 12 species of amphibians, 33 species of reptiles and four species of mammals have been recorded in the Lunugamvehera National Park which has a very high level of biodiversity. Here, wild elephants roam in the teak forest. Buffalo, the dandulena (rock squirrel), the ittewa (porcupine), the urulawa, the kala vedda (pole cat), foxes and monkeys, wild boar and leopards also live in this environment.

There are about 184 species of birds which inhabit this park. Among them are several species of birds endemic to Sri Lanka, such as the wild rooster. Some of these species are threatned.

Many species of reptiles found In this park are endemic to Sri Lanka. Leaf lizards, red breasted lizards, bumblebees, and moths are found here. Some of these species are endangered.

The Sri Lankan endangered amphibian Athukoralage gemba, the house frog, crocodiles, star tortoises and pythons are found in the park.

Historically important sites

There are many places of historical importance in the vicinity of this park. Among them are many ancient temples and ruins belonging to the ancient Magama kingdom.

Historical sites such as the Sandagiri seya, Manik vehera, Kirinda as well as Udawalawe, Buttala and Yala National Park are not far from this park.

The Lunugamvehera Park is also vulnerable to the common threat to sustainability of many of the forests in the arid zone which includes deforestation and wild fires.