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Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation

Episode 27 – Lahugala Kitulana National Park

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A new beginning

In the year 2002, I worked in Kitulana National Park in Lahugala. I served as a Park Warden in charge of this park, the Kumana and Panama parks. All these parks were closer to each other in the Eastern Province.

At the end of 2002, the then government signed a peace accord with the LTTE* organization.

With the peace treaty a new era of peace was dawned. The government took a policy decision to open the closed national parks.

I received an order from the Eastern Province Assistant Director to open the park which had been closed for about twenty years. This area was considered a very risky area. The road was not macadamized and the entire area was gone wild and the people of the village used to go to see the animals during the day. The people of Pottuvil and Akkareipattu used to go into the forest and to cook food in the forest while watching animals just for fun. We learned that animals can suffer alot because of this practice.

We did not have a large staff and vehicle facilities were minimum. On the first day I cycled from Lahugala Kitulana, to Panama. That road was macadamized. We night stopped at the house of the Wildlife Guard, P. Jayawardene. The next day, I went to Kumana by road. Where the office buildings have been destroyed and only two ruined buildings were there. The Okanda tank was also collapsed. Cashew trees were well established in the area. The soil was sandy in nature and area was covered with lantana bushes. I explained the situation to the Eastern Assistant Director and asked for his advice.

We had to depend on sponsorship and we needed to find sponsors by ourselves. They asked us to put a gate at the entrance utilizing government funds. A small watchers hut was built using clay by the Rural Development Society of Panama. This guardhouse marked the boundary between the village and the park. A gate was placed near the watcher’s hut. There was an old well; we cleaned it and used it for our day to day needs. There was a protest in the village on the first day of the work. The protest is against opening political offices by the Karuna Amman’s group in the province.

This incident happened in late September or early October of 2002. I don’t remember the exact date. I was about 23 years old at that time. That evening, the minister’s advisor came.He was an anesthetist named Mr. Ranjan Fernando and he wanted to go to Kuman from Lahugala-Kitulana office. It was around 3:30 pm and Driver, Wildlife Ranger Mr. Jayasena Sylvath, left by the Land Cruiser Jeep of the Department to go to Kumana. The jeep was given for the usage of the Advisor to the Department by the head office.

We traveled to the Kudumbigala Halava region about 4:30 p.m. The rain has now become very heavy. The path was unclear and the road was narrow. A torrent of water was gushing across the road. It has transformed into a pool of mud and the jeep has to drive across it. The stream flows from Kudumbigala to the estuary via Halava Lagoon.

Without submerging the Jeep in the mud, you are unable to continue. Unfortunately, as soon as the Jeep was inserted into it, it became immobile and could not move further. The stream is full to the brim. Additionally, the amount of rain was getting heavier, and the water level was progressively rising. Then water was above the windscreen of the Jeep. Fortunately, the engine was still running.

The vehicle was in the water for about 20 minutes. Can’t open the door, the water was pouring inside. The vehicle was a “four-wheeler” one.

The driver tried with his full effort; cut back and forth, and finally he could pull over the vehicle. We heaved a sigh of relief.

Anyway, we managed to go to Okanda Temple on time. Okanda temple is a temple where people used to visit frequently.

During this time, we worked with great interest and dedication. By March 2003, the reopening arrangements of the park was completed. The incident of vehicle getting stuck in the water is an incident I will never forget.

*the LTTE. – An organization designated as a terrorist organization.

Mr. Pradeep Munasinghe

In November 1998, Mr. Munasinghe joined the Department of Wildlife Conservation as a Grade 2 Wildlife Guard. He received a lot of experience through working in Kataragama and Bundala areas and then he assigned to Lahugala-Kitulana National Park. During this time, Panama Sanctuary and Kuana National Park was closed and their management was done by Lahugala-Kitulana National Park. Later, Mr. Munasinghe performed his duties in Horton Plains, Monaragala, Wellawaya areas. He has studied the Diploma offered by the Colombo University which is sponsored by the Department of Wildlife Conservation and he has participated in several foreign trainings as well.

It is Mr. Munasinghe’s intention to apply the knowledge gained from his experience for the sake of conservation and management of nature.

Mr. Munasinghe is a father of three children. His wife is a government Nurse. His three children are studying for ordinary level examination.

Mr. Munasinghe’s address is Wepatha Ira, Hakmana.

Lahugala Kitulana National Park

Lahugala-Kitulana National Park is one of the smallest National Parks in Sri Lanka. The total area is about 1,554 hectares. This park is located near Heda Oya, 16 kilometers inland from Pothuvil on the East coast. The park consists of three ancient reservoirs namely Lahugala, Kitulana and Sengamuwa. Lahugala Lake is a comparatively large lake of about 243 hectares in extent.

The Lahugala Kitulana area is an important habitat for Sri Lankan elephants and Sri Lankan endemic birds,  was first designated as a wildlife sanctuary on July 1, 1966. Then on October 31, 1980, this reserve area was designated as a National Park. Located close to Kumana National Park, this park is flanked by the Pothuvil-Monaragala highway. The Lahugala-Kitulana National Park, which has been in ruins for a long time due to military conflicts, has recently been opened for people to visit.


The Lahugala Kitulana National Park in the Eastern Province belongs to the dry zone. This National Park is located at a distance of nearly 318 km from Colombo. The average annual rainfall in the area is about 1,650 mm and the area get rain from November to December by the northeast monsoon. Dry climate prevails from May to October and from January to March. The temperature is between 26-29 degree centigrade. The land area of the park is flat with rocky terrain.

                                                                                                                            Night Sceneries

The site is a historical site with a massive ancient stupa dating back to the 1st century known as the Nilgiri Stupa. Standing 72 feet high and 597 feet in circumference, this massive stupa is believed to have been built by King Kavantissa (205-161 BC). This protected historical site is being excavated and restored and archaeologists in attempt  to uncover its many mysteries. Magul Maha Viharaya is an ancient temple located on the northern edge of the park. At that time this temple was known as Uttar Sivali Pabbata Vihara. It is said that this is the place where the king Magul Mal Vihara Mahadevya. This temple is known as Uttar Sivali Pabbata Vihara. It is said that this is the place where the king married Vihara Mahadevya. The foundation of the “wedding shed” where the wedding took place is still visible in the temple premises. This temple complex was spread over an area of ​​about 10,000 acres, and the ruins of a palace, a moon stone, a monastery, a bodhigara, stupas, ponds, etc. are found everywhere. The Sandakada Pahana here is unique in the country because this is the only place where elephants and four mahouts are encarvedin it.

The moon stone

The vegetation here is classified as Sri Lanka dry zone dry evergreen forest. Among the plant composition here are Palu (Manilkara hexandra), Weera (Dryptees sepiaria), Neem tree (Azadirachta indica), Satin (Chloroxylon swietenia), Halmilla (Berrya cordifolia), Milla (Vitex altissima).Beru Cupscale grass (Sacciolepis interrupta), a prominent grass species which is a favorite food of elephants near Lahugala, is frequented by elephants. This area is also known as the food store of elephants.

                                                                                                                      Elephants eating Cupscale grass

Toque monkey (macaca sinica), Sloth bear (Melursin ursinus), Golden jackal (Canis aureus), Rusty spotted cat (Prionailurus rubginosus), Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus), Wild Boar (Sus scrofa), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), Spotted deer (Axis axis ceylonensis), Sambar (Rusa unicolor), Mammals like Indian muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak), Sri lanka jungle fowl (Gallus lafayetii), Purple heron (Ardea purpurea), Painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala), Lesser adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus), white-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), Gray headed Birds such as fish eagle (Haliaeetus ichthyaetus), Red-faced malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus), Sri Lanka Spurfowl (Galloperdix bicalcarata) can also be found here.

Aquatic birds on the tree top

(Bufo atukoralei), (Fejervarya limnocharis), and (Polypedates maculatus) amphibians have been identified in the park. Sri Lanka phython (Python molurus), Rat snake (Ptyas mucosa), Banded flying snake (Chrysopelea sps.), Cat snake (Boiga sps.), Russell’s viper (Vipera russelli), Hard shelled terrapin (Melanochelys trijuga), Soft shelled terrapin (Lissemys punctata) and Star tortoise (Testudo elegans) are among the reptiles in the park.

Lahugala Kitulana National Park is a hidden gem. It is one of the richest parks in terms of wildlife. The park is famous for Sri Lanka’s large number of elephants, and between June and August, herds of around 150 elephants can be seen.

Circuit bungalows have been built near the Lahugala Maha Lake for the convenience of tourists so that visitors can have the best opportunity to enjoy the wildlife resources and the unique experience of living in a forest. Camps have also been set up at Karanda Oya, Kitulanagala, Bandara Pattiya to enjoy the beauty of nature freely.

List of animals in the Lahugala Kitulana National Park

 Sinhala Names

Tamil Names

English Names

Scientific Name

ශ්‍රීලංකා දිවියා



Panthera pardus kotiya

අලියාஆசிய யானைAsian elephantElephas maximus


தேன் கரடி

Sloth bear

Melursus ursinus



Golden jackal

Canis aureus

වල් ඌරා


Wild boar

Sus scrofa

හදුන් දිවියා


Fishing cat

Prionailurus viverrinus


துரும்பன் பூனை

Rusty spotted cat 

Prionailurus rubginosus


இலங்கைப் புள்ளிமான்

Spotted deer

Axis axis ceylonensis




Rusa unicolor



Indian muntjac

Muntiacus muntjak

ලංකා වළි කුකුළා

இலங்கை காட்டுக்கோழி

Sri lankaJunglefowl

Gallus lafayetti

කරවැල් කොකා


Purple heron

Ardea purpurea

ලතු වැකියා

மஞ்சள் மூக்கு நாரை

Painted stork  

Mycteria leucocephala


சிறுத்த பெரு நாரை

Lesser adjutant

Leptoptilos javanicus

සුදු පපුව සහිත මුහුදු රාජලියා

வெள்ளை வயிறு கொண்ட கடல் கழுகு

white-bellied sea eagle

Haliaeetus leucogaster

වැව් රාජාලියා

சாம்பல் தலை மீன்பிடிக் கழுகு

Grey headed fish eagle

Haliaeetus ichthyaetus

වතරතු මල්කොහා

செம்முகப் பூங்குயில்Red-faced malkohaPhaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus

හබන් කුකුලා

இலங்கைச் சுண்டங்கோழி

Sri lankaSpurfowl

Galloperdix bicalcarata

ඇමිබියා (ගෙම්බන්) විශේෂ

எமிபியா (தவளை) இனங்கள்

Amphibians Sps.

Bufo atukoralei

Fejervarya limnocharis

Polypedates maculatus



Sri Lanka phython

Python molurus



Rat snake

Ptyas mucosa


இரட்டைப்பட்டை மரப்பாம்பு

Banded flying snake

Chrysopelea sps.


இலங்கை பூனைப்பாம்பு

Cat snake

Boiga sps.

තිත් පොළඟා

கண்ணாடி விரியன்

Russell’s viper

Vipera russelli

ගල් ඉබ්බා

கறுப்பு ஆமை

Hard shelled terrapin

Melanochelys trijuga

කිරි ඉබ්බා

பால் ஆமை

Soft shelled terrapin

Lissemys punctata

තාරකා ඉබ්බා

நட்சத்திர ஆமை

Star tortoise

Testudo elegans

List of trees in the Lahugala Kitulana National Park

Sinhala Name

Tamil Name

English Name

Scientific Name




Manilkara hexandra



Hedge Box wood

Drypetes sepiaria



Azadirachta indica


Chloroxylon swietenia


காட்டு நொச்சி


Vitex  altissima


சாவண்டலை மரம்


Berraya cordifolia


கப்ஸ்கேல் புல்

Cupscale grass

Sacciolepis interrupta

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

Article on park written byHasini Sarathchandra, Chief Media Officer, Department of Wildlife Coservation (DWLC), Mahesha Chathurani Perera ,Development Officer, (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 by Kolitha Nuwan Jayasinghe