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Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation

EPISODE 15 – Horton Plain National Park

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Foreseeing the Risk

I worked at Horton Plains National Park from 2004-2005 and until the end of 2009-2002. Horton Plains is the largest tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. A large number of local and foreign tourists visit this park every year. From 2009-2012, I worked as a gardener there. We had a staff of about 25 members. We stayed in the park quarters. As wildlife officers, we are on duty 24 hours a day.

Most people love to see the World’s End in Horton Plains Park. Worlds End is located in the jungle trek. You have to go about 7 km on that jungle trek to reach the Worlds End. There are a number of places to visit along this route. Little World’s End, Chimney Ponds, and Bakers Falls are among them. The second and third highest mountains in Sri Lanka, Kirigalpotta and Thotupola Kanda, are located in the Horton Plains Park. School children, cadets, photographers and environmentalists are also come to climb the mountain. As the Horton Plains function as a catchment area, ponds and streams are ubiquitous. The tributaries of the Mahaweli, Kelani and Walawe also originate from here. BelihuloOya originates from Bakers Falls and Agra Oya flows from Dayagama side.

Tourists visiting Horton Plains are fascinated by this beauty. Although the environment is beautiful, there are many dangerous places as well. Tourists forget the risk.

One day, an Australian foreigner went to photograph a beautiful lizard in the Horton Plains at the Worlds End. He came with his wife. He went backwards and fell down from the Worlds End. We worked hard with the police and the locals to find the body. The body was found in an area called Periyalwatta below the world’s end.

Another day a group of local tourists came. Among them was a cute boy. This kid has been trying to bathe everywhere. Just as he approached the waterfall, he suddenly jumped into the water. Bakers Falls is freezing cold. Bathing is not allowed. Two children came running crying, saying that a younger brother had drowned. We informed the police and searched for the child. But we could not find him. Later a group from the Navy came and found the body.

When traveling, travel with responsibility and understanding. Then accidents like this can be avoided.

I want to say one more thing. Young groups of tourists pick flowers and plants. These flowering plants do not grow in any other environment. We need to protect them. Horton Plains should be kept beautiful.

Mr. G. U. Saranga

 

Mr. G. U. Saranga joined the Wildlife Department in 1983 as a Ranger and he was fortunate to work in various National Parks and Sanctuaries. He received his basic training at the Yala and Wilpattu Sanctuaries. He was in charge of the Sigiriya Sanctuary and later worked at the Minneriya National Park and then at the Wasgamuwa National Park for seven years. He also served as Park Warden at Horton Plains National Park from 2004-2005 and 2009-2002. Mr. Saranga was later promoted to Assistant Director and was in charge of the Kilinochchi area and later the Ampara area. He is currently in charge of the Vavuniya region.

Mr. Saranga completed a 9-month Diploma course awarded by the Department of Wildlife in 1995 and trained for three months at the Wildlife Institute in Dehradun, India. He has also completed short training courses in countries such as Korea, the Philippines and Thailand.

Mr. Saranga’s house is located in Katugastota, Kandy.

Horton Plain National Park

After a train ride through the tunnels through the mountains, you can enjoy the beauty of the range of quiet tea plantations in the distance through a train window, we have now reached Horton Plains, a beautiful place in Sri Lanka that has attracted the attention of locals and foreigners alike.

This is a unique National Park with a rich biodiversity as well as archaeological value. Horton Plains, the only national park in the wetlands of Sri Lanka, was originally known as MahaEliya and is the highest mountainous plain in Sri Lanka. Situated in the central highlands at an altitude of 2100-2300 m above sea level, this is a beautiful area spread over an area of ​​3.169 hectares. Captain William Fisher and Colonel Albert Watson, both Englishmen of the 1920s, are credited with officially discovering Horton Plains. The forest was declared as a Nature Reserve on 05thDecember, 1969 and was declared a National Park on 16thMarch, 1988 due to its location value, which is located on the border of Samanala Kanda. In July 2010, it was added to the World Heritage List.

Scenery of bakers waterfall

Horton Plains is a beautiful place located in the NuwaraEliya District of the Central Province. This area is located in the central highlands between NuwaraEliya and Haputale and receives Southwest and Northeast and inter monsoon rains. The average annual rainfall of the MahaEliya is more than 2500 mm and the area receives an average amount of rainfall throughout the year but there is a severe dry season from January to March. The average temperature in the Horton Plains area is around 13 degrees Celsius, with occasional drops to 5 degrees Celsius at night with a mild morning frost occurring from December to February.

The main mountain range is Horton Plateau, the highest plateau in Sri Lanka, at an elevation of 2357 m above sea level and the adjoining Kirigalpottha Mountain situated at an elevation of 2389 m. Horton Plains is the coldest and windiest place in Sri Lanka and you can also observe the stunted vegetation due to the high winds blowing through this area. It consists of mountainous evergreen forests, grasslands, swamps and aquatic ecosystems, covering an area of ​​about 7,000 acres.  It can be seen that about 4,000 acres of lush grown grasslands. It is one of the most important catchment areas in Sri Lanka and supplies water to the Mahaweli, Kelani and Walawe rivers as well as BelihuloOya, KiriketiOya, Uma Oya and BogawanthalawaOya.

According to research conducted in 1992, there are about 101 species of plants here. 49 of them are endemic to Sri Lanka. What is special is that most of them are endemic to Horton Plains.Rhododendron (Rhododendron arboreum), a beautiful red flower, is a popular plant among local and foreign tourists. Maharatmala(Rhododendron) is symbolic Central Province flower and Rhododendron is usually found in this environment from April to July. Ratumihiriya (Adinandralasiopetala), Kina (Calophylemwalkeri), walkurudu (Cinnamomumovalifolium), walsapu (Michelianilagirica) and Binara (Exacumtrinervamacranthum) are other flowering plants found here.

Maharatmala flower
Binara flower

98 endemic species of birds, 14 species of mammals, 16-20 species of amphibians and 40 species of butterflies have been identified in the Horton Plains Ecosystem as at now. Sambar (Cervus unicolor) is the most populous of the four-limbed animals. In addition, Fishing Cat (Prionailurusviverrinus), Barking Deer (Muntiacusmuntijak), Giant Squirrel (Ratufamacroura), Leopard (Pantheraparduskotiya), Indian hare (Lepusnigricollis), Wild Boar (Susscrofa), Porcupine (Hystrixindica) Mammals such as Eurasian otter (Lutralutraceylonica), Gray Slender Loris (lorislydekkerrianus), and Purple-faced langur (Semnopithecusvetulusmonticola) can be found in this ecosystem.Amphibians include Leaf-nesting shrub frog (Pseudophilautusfemoralis), Sri Lanka frog (Fejervaryagreeni), Sri Lanka Narrow-mouthed Frog (Microhylazeylanica), Rhino horned lizard (Ceratophorastoddartii) as well as a variety of butterfly or reptile species are also found here. Large mammals are rarely seen in the Horton Plains.

A Sambarstanding infront of the house allocated for conservation groups
Rhino Horned Lizard

Horton Plains National Park is home to about 12 endemic bird species and the following birds are recorded for the Horton Plains only. Sri Lanka blue magpie (Urocissaornata), dusky blue flycatcher (Eumyiassordidus), Sri Lanka white (Zosteropsceylonensis) and Sri Lanka wood pigeon (Columba torringtoniae), Sri Lanka Spurfowl (Galloperdixbicalcarata), Sri Lanka Jungle flow (Gallus latay), Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush (Myophonusblighi), Sri Lanka Yellow-eared Balbul (Pycnonotuspenicillatus) and Sri Lanka Warbler (Elaphrornispalliseri) are some of the birds that can be seen in this park and this is also a butterfly paradise.

Sri Lanka blue magpie
Sri Lanka Yellow-eared Bulbul

NuwaraEliya is one of the favorite places to visit when you have a break from work. Not only the pleasant climate but also many marvelous tourism places are located in the vicinity of NuwaraEliya. Horton Plains is one of the attractive destinations among local and foreign tourists. It is also rich in biodiversity and is a valuable area for those engaged in education and research.

Horton Plains, a wet zone evergreen forest, is a scenic place covered with evergreen peaks and constant mist. Located at the southern end of the Horton Plains Park, Worlds End is a beautiful place, preceded by a small Worlds End and the scenic Bakers Falls which is fed by marvelous Belihuloya have become favourite destination among local and foreign tourists as well.

There are three access roads to Horton Plains, the main of which is viaNuwaraEliya, Ambewela and Pattipola (32 km). You can also reach Horton Plains via the Haputale – Welimada, Boralanda, Ohia (38 km) route and along the road that passes through NuwaraEliya, Haggala, Rendapola, Ambewela, Pattipola (38 km).Horton Plains has several lodges that are managed by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. The renovated Ginihiriya (Anderson) and Mahaeliya houses as well as three campgrounds have been set up for eco-lovers to relax in their natural environment. The lodge, which is reserved for groups of up to 50 people, is located in a beautiful setting with scenic views. These lodges and campsites can be booked at the Head Office of the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Battaramulla, Colombo.

It was named a World Heritage Site, a nature reserve and a park because of its valuable, unique ecosystem. Therefore, it should be the responsibility of all of us to protect the Horton Plains ecosystem.

List of animals in the Horton Plains National Park

Sinhala Name

Tamil Name

English Name

Scientific name

ගෝනා

மரை

Sambar

Rusa unicolor

හඳුන් දිවියා

மீன்பிடிப் பூனை

Fishing Cat

Prionailurus viverrinus

වැලි මුවාகுரைக்கும் மான்Barking DeerBarking Deer

වල් ඌරා

காட்டுப் பன்றி

Wild Boar

Sus scrofa

කොටියා

புலி

Leopard

Panthera pardus kotiya

හාවා

இந்திகுழி முயல்

Indian hare

Lepus nigricollis

ඉත්තෑවා

முள்ளம்பன்றி

Porcupine

Hystrix indica

දඬු ලේනා

பழுப்பு மலை அணில்

Giant squirrel

Ratufa macroura

දියබල්ලාநீர் நாய்Eurasian otterLutra lutra ceylonica
උණහපුලුවාசிவப்பு மெல்லிய லொரிஸ்Gray Slender Lorisloris lydekkerrianus
වලස් වඳුරා (කළු වඳුරා)

ஊதா முக இலங்கை குரங்கு

Purple-faced langurSemnopithecus vetulus monticola
පළා පදුරු මැඩියාஇலை கூடு புதர் தவளைLeaf-nesting shrub frogPseudophilautus femoralis
ලංකා කඳුකර මැඩියාஇலங்கை தவளை​வாயன்Srilanka frogFejervarya greeni

ලංකා මුව පටු මැඩියා

இலங்கையின் குறுகிய வாய் கொண்ட தவளை

Sri Lanka Narrow-mouth Frog

Microhyla zeylanica

අං කටුස්සාகாண்டா மிருகக் கொம்புப் பல்லிRhino horned lizard Ceratophora stoddartii

වලි කුකුළා

இலங்கைக் காட்டுக் கோழி

Sri lanka junglefowl

Gallus lafayettii

ශ්‍රී ලංකා කැහිබෙල්ලාஇலங்கை நீலச் செவ்வலகன்Sri Lanka blue magpieUrocissa ornata

ශ්‍රී ලංකා අනු මැසිමාරා

வெளிர் நீல ஈப்பிடிப்பான்

Dusky blue flycatcher

Eumyias sordidus

ශ්‍රී ලංකා අනු මැසිමාරාவெளிர் நீல ஈப்பிடிப்பான்Dusky blue flycatcherEumyias sordidus
මයිල ගොයාஇலங்கை மரப் புறாSri Lanka wood pigeonColumba torringtoniae

හබන් කුකුළා

சின்னக் காட்டுக்கோழி

srilankaSpurfowl

Galloperdix bicalcarata

ශ්‍රී ලංකා අරංගයා

இலங்கை விசில் த்ரஷ்

Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush

Myophonus blighi

ශ්‍රී ලංකා පීතකන් කොණ්ඩයා

மஞ்சள் காது புல்புல்

Sri Lanka Yellow-eared Balbul

Pycnonotus penicillatus

ශ්‍රී ලංකා වන රැවියා

இலங்கை புஷ் போர்ப்லர்

Sri Lanka  Warbler 

Elaphrornis palliseri

List of trees in the Horton Plains National Park

 Sinhala Names

Tamil Names

English Names

Botanical Name

මහරත්මල්

மகா ரத்மல்

Rhododendron

Rhododendron arboreum

රතු මිහිරිය

ரது மிஹிரிய

Ratumihiriya

Adinandra lasiopetala

කින

கின

Kina

Calophylem walkeri

වල් කුරුදු

வல் குருந்து

walkurudu

Cinnamomum ovalifolium

වල් සපු

வல் சபு

walsapu

Michelia nilagirica

බිනර

பினர

Binara

Exacum trinerva macranthum

Editor–  Dammika Malsinghe, Additional Secretary,Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Conservation (MWFRC)

Article on park written byHasini Sarathchandra, Chief Media Officer, Department of Wildlife Coservation (DWLC) Mahesha Chathurani Perera (Graduate Trainee), (DWLC)

Tamil TranslationsA.R.F. Rifna, Development Officer, MWFRC

English Translations Asoka Palihawadana, Translator, MWFRC

Web DesigningN.I.Gayathri, Development Officer,MWFC-C.A.D.D.A. Kollure, Management Service Officer, MWFRC

PhotographyRohitha Gunawardana, DWLC