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Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation

Episode 18 – Chundikulam National Park

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The end of the leopard

In 2019, I worked as the Assistant Director in charge of Kilinochchi area. Kilinochchi area has 2 National Parks. Those areChundikulam and Delft National Parks.

There are small lakes in Chundikulam area. Migrant birds are first to set foot in the ChundiKulam area. Thousands of migratory birds are in the lakes. During the rainy season, these lakes are filled with water. During that time, the migrant birds are abundant in Vankala Sanctuary of Mannar.

There are turtles along the coast in this area, especially the Olive Ridley turtles. Fishermen are engaged in fishing activities on the Northern coast. Turtles get caught in their nets. Because of those practices legs and head of those turtles get injured. There are also cases of illegal transportation as well. There are cases where they are caught and handed over because it is illegal, and there are cases where legal actions were taken. Most incidents are caught by the police. Apart from Batu turtles, other species of turtles are rarely caught.

One day when I was in the Nilinochchi office, I received a message that a leopard had come to the village. The name of the village is AmbalaKulam. It is a little far from my office. I immediately sent a group there. Later a message came from them that the leopard is trapped in the village whilethey will inform the vet and the leopard can be protected as well.

Later the vet also came there. But when the vet was ready to tranquilize the animal, the people behaved riotously. In this commotion, the leopard jumped on to the back one of our officers.  The claws of the leopard cut and scratched the flesh severely. Two people have taken the injured officer to the hospital. The riotous behavior of people increased. They have obstructed our work. Meanwhile, the animal started chasing after the people. Then the people took axes and went to fight with the leopard.

By that time, I was also able to come close to the area. But the police said people were behaving in a restless manner and to wait for a while. At the same time, I heard the news that the leopard had been killed.

When we reached, people were attacking the animal with axes. They were takenselfies with the dead leopard carcass. People behaved as if they had done a great act of heroism. They were shouting loudly.

We went to the police with the body of the dead leopard. We reported to Kilinochchi Magistrate Court regarding this incident. The photos taken by those people are posted on Facebook. We took it and reported it to the court. The court ordered the police to arrest everyone involved and the police arrested about ten to fifteen people.

The case is still pending. When I remember the incident, I feel sorry for not being able to save the leopard.

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.

Chundikulam National Park

Chundikulam National Park can be introduced as a wetland ecosystem located near the Jaffna Peninsula in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, with high biodiversity as well as a unique aquatic and coastal ecosystem. With a total area of ​​19565.33 hectares, this area was first designated as a sanctuary on 26th February 1983 and was declared a National Park on 22nd June 2015 under the provisions of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. The park is located between Puchchilaippally and Karachi and the nearest city is Kilinochchi.

Chundikulam Park is located in a lagoon ecosystem, so both freshwater and brackish landforms can be seen here. Located at the sea level height, this is a plain area made up of a combination of several ecosystems showing lowland tropical climate and the salinity of the water also changes from time to time. The rains are brought by the Northeast monsoon and convectional rains while during period from April to September of the year shows a dry weather condition here.

A high diversity of plants can be seen in this park made up of several ecosystems. Accordingly, about 187 plant species have been found, and a large number of them are plant species that grow in wetlands. Mangrove swamp species and sea grass species can be seen in abundance. Grey mangrove (Avicennia marina),Black mangrove(Lumnitzeralittoralis), Thatch screw pine (Pandanustactorius), Red mangrove (Rhizophoramucronata), Mangrove apple (Sonneratiacaseolaris) are the mangrove species found here.Although there are no fully grown trees within the park, Palmyraplam(Borassusflabellifer)occasionally found. In addition, around 18 aquatic plant species have been identified in here.

Palmyra Palm
Red mangrove
Mangrove apple
Mangrove apple

Chundikulam National Park is rich in faunal diversity as it comprises of both wet and dry ecosystems. That is, due to the abundance of food in these ecosystems and the availability of suitable places to breed their species, about 136 species of birds have been identified, and many of them are migratory birds. Bar-tailedgodwit (Limosalapponica),Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterusroseus), Black-winged stilt (Himantopushimantopus),Brownheaded gull (Chroicocephalusbrunnicephalus),Common sandpiper (Actitishypoleucos),Eurasian curlew (Numeniusarquata), Gull-billed tern(Gelochelidonnilotica),Marsh sandpiper (Tringastagnatilis), Black-headed ibis (Threskiornismelanocephalus)can be identified as most common bird species found in here.

Bar-tailed godwit
Greater flamingo
Black-winged stilt
Brown headed gull
Common sandpiper

Leopard (Pantheraparduskotiya),Sloth bear (Melursusursinus), Spotted deer (Axis axisceylonensis)and 26 other species have been identified as the mammals found in here. Mugger crocodile (Crocodyluspalustris),Estuarine crocodile (Crocodylusporosus) are the two crocodile species live in this.

Leopard
Sloth bear
Mugger crocodile

Also, 08 species of amphibians, 05 species of reptiles, one species of turtle, 34 species of salamanders, 20 species of frogs, 30 species of aquatic vertebrates and 17 species of aquatic invertebrates have also been identified in recent studies.

The total distance from Colombo to the park is approximately 361km. A person approaching Chundikulam National Park can enter the park by passing through Negombo – Puttalam – Anuradhapura – Rabewa – Medavachchiya – Kilinochchi – Alimankada – Iyanachchi Junction – Kuveni Junction and can also approach the park through Nittambuwa – Kekirawa – Tirappane – Mihintalea – Rabewa – Medavachchiya – Kilinochchi route.

The tourist bungalow

Tourists coming to visit Chundikulam National Park can be accommodated in the tourist bungalow near the beach, which is maintained by the Department of Wildlife Conservation and can provide accommodation for about ten people. while the bookings can be done from the head office of the Wildlife Conservation Department, Battaramulla, Colombo.

List of animals in the Chundikulam National Park                                            

 Sinhala Names

Tamil Names

English Names

Botanical Name

කොටියා

புலி

Leopard

Panthera pardus kotiya

වලහා

தேன் கரடி

Sloth bear

Ursus ursinus

මුවා           

மான்

Spotted deer

Axis axis ceylonensis

වයිරපෙද ගොහොදුවිත්තා 

பட்டைவால் மூக்கன்

Bar-tailed godwit

Limosa lapponica

රජ සියක්කාරයා 

பெரும் பூநாரை

Greater flamingo

Phoenicopte rusroseus

කළු පිය  ඉපල්පාවා

நெடுங்கால் உள்ளான்

Black-winged stilt

Himantopus himantopus

බොරහිස් ගල්වියා 

பழுப்புத்தலை கடற்பறவை

Brown headed gull

Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus

පොදු සිලිත්තා

சாதா உள்ளான்

Common sandpiper

Actitis hypoleucos

යුරාසියා කලිත්තා

பெரிய கோட்டான்

Eurasian curlew

Numeniu sarquata

ගුලුතුඩු මුහුදුලිහිණියා

பருத்த அலகு ஆலா

Gull-billed tern

Gelochelidon nilotica

වගුරු සිලිබිල්ලා

சின்ன பச்சைக்காலி

Marsh sandpiper

Tringa stagnatilis

හිසකළු කෑදෑත්තා

வெள்ளை அரிவாள் மூக்கன்

Black-headed ibis

Threskiornis melanocephalus

හැල කිඹුලා

சதுப்பு முதலை

Mugger crocodile

Crocodylus palustris

ගැට කිඹුලා

செம்மூக்கு முதலை

Estuarine crocodile

Crocodylus porosus

List of trees in the Chundikulam National Park

Sinhala Name

Tamil Name

English Name

Scientific Name

කඩොලාන විශේෂ

சதுப்புநில  புதர்கள் 

Mangrove swamp Sps

 

මුහුදු තණකොළ

கடற் புட்கள்

Sea grass

 

කිරල

கிண்ணை

Mangrove apple

Sonneratia caseolaris

 

තල් ශාකය

ஆசியப் பனை

Palmyra Palm

Borassus flabellifer

මන්ඩා

சாம்பல் சதுப்பு நிலம்

Grey mangrove

Avicennia marina

මහ කඩොල් 

சிவப்பு சதுப்பு நிலம்

Red mangrove

Rhizophora mucronata

 

බේරියා

கறுப்பு சதுப்பு நிலம்

Black mangrove

Lumnitzera littoralis

 

මූදූ කෙයියා

கைதை

Thatch screw pine

Pandanus tectorius

Editor–  DammikaMalsinghe, Additional Secretary,Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation, Section, Ministry of Agriculture and Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation  (MAWFRC)

Article on park written byHasiniSarathchandra, Chief Media Officer, Department of Wildlife Coservation (DWLC) MaheshaChathuraniPerera (Graduate Trainee), (DWLC)

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

English Translations Asoka Palihawadana, Translator, MAWFRC

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

Photography pictures are from internet.