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Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation

Episode 30 – Ussangoda National Park

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Ussangoda forest to become a National Park

In 2006, I was transferred to the Kalamatiya Beat Office. The Ussangoda area was close to the Kalamatia Beat Office. The Ussangoda area was conserved by the Department of Archaeology. The Department Forest Conservation has conserved around the reserve as a buffer zone.

Ussangoda is located on the main road between Ambalantota town and Hungama town, at a distance of about 2.5 km on the rural road from Nonagama towards the sea. There are two hillocks, a valley and two grasslands in the Ussangoda area. This is a forest cover and within this shrub  forest cover, there are thorny plants that grow in the semi-arid zone, such as daluk, hinguruvel, kora kaha, cactus, karamba, andara, kukuruman, katupila, etc.

The edge of the forest cover is the sea and scenary of the blue sea waves come and hit the beach is charming. During the day, you can occasionally see turtles swimming freely in the shallow water. You can see many species of birds such as Golu kirala, Goma ritta, yellow-billed kirala, red-billed kirala, dumbonna, and beetle birds. It is possible to see the birds digging holes in the ground and building their nests. There is also a species of large dark colored lizards in this area. Also, you can see animals such as porcupine, spotted deer, mouse deer, rabbits, iguana and occasionally wild elephants.

There are many legends regarding the land of Ussangoda. In the story of Rama-Ravana, Hanuma was hiding in Ussangoda, and there is a legend that medicinal plants were brought from India to heal his wounds, and medicinal plants such as Vishnukranti and Chandrakanti are those plants. Another legend is that this is the area of Lord Mangala and the lake is which the Lord Mangala’s vehicle ‘Bufalo’ was bathed. Another idea is that this land is subjected to subterranean shift and Madunagala hot water springs in  there are due to this subterranean shift.Another legend is that it is an area where mythical Kalu Kumara yaksha’s influence is presence.

School children and young couples often came to visit the Ussangoda area. Stealing their valuables and hunting wild animals at night became widespread. It was also heard that drug addicts used to do these things. The agriculture committee meeting of Ussangoda area was held at Ambalantota Divisional Secretariat and I usually take part to it. One day in this meeting, the environmental officer in charge of the area reported that the Ussangoda area was subjected to illegal human activities. After discussing the importance of protecting the animals and plants and the environment there, everyone including the minister decided to assign Rumassala under the Department of wildlife. After that, the Kalamatia Beat Office of the Wildlife Department received a notice to specify the territory with a rough boundary in the area.

Accordingly, Departments of Wildlife, Archeology, Forest Conservation and the Survey Generals were requested to define the boundaries. The Survey Department requested to pay them 2 lakhs for boundary demarcations. Meanwhile, a private company requested 60 acres of this land to build a hotel. The people of the village protested against it.

At that time, I was a wildlife Beat Officer. Only correspondence is exchanged between the parties. I wondered what I should do. I took a bottle of water on my bike to have when I was thirsty and went to Rumassala. After talking to the senior citizens, I learned about the boundaries belonging to the Department of Archeology and the Department of Forest Conservation. I crawled through the thorn bushes, went along the difficult roads and looked for the borders. Finally, I was able to know the area belonging to the both Departments. Because these areas belong to two Grama Seva domains, I noted that boundary in my mind.

In the office, I drew these borders on a piece of paper. It was actually a sketch, but I took my time with it. I later gave the Range Officer the sketch. But all he did was give it a quick glance before discarding it. The map had become divided in two, and I was in great panic. I took the two map pieces apart and carefully glued them back together.

Time was passed and the problem was aggravated. The people of the village are leading a series of protests. Colombo Kataragama main road was blocked at Lunama area. The authorities ended the protest by saying that this area has now been handed over to the Department of wildlife.

Then one day a senior lady official of the wildlife department came hurriedly with a group of officers. She has been asked to present the border of Ussangoda land to the Parliament soon. Letters sent to the Survey Department had not been answered. I brought the map I had drawn and showed it to her. She was very happy. I was picked up in the vehicle and came to Ussangoda land, and according to my map she  recorded the G.P.S. readings starting from a corner of the land to the other.

Our lunch that day was only tender coconuts. The officer prepared the map and left for Colombo.

Ussangoda was declared as a National Park with 349.077 hectares in extent was declared on Thursday, May 6, 2010 by Gazette No. 1652/49. I am very happy for my contribution in this event.

Mr. Vidanapathiranage Ranjith

On 01.12.1983, at the age of 17,  Mr. Ranjith joined the Wildlife Department as a minor employee, on daily wages. The daily wage at that time was Rs. 22.50. His first duty at a Gampalagama camp was to drive elephants.Since then he worked at Wilpatttu, Horton Plains, Kataragama, and Galge Beat Office. Mr. Ranjith became a permanent employee on 01.12.1988. He was promoted to Wildlife Assistant Range officer in 2014.

He had the opportunity to go on an educational tour in India during his tenure. Mr. Ranjith does his job with love and devotion. He says that he is very satisfied with his job.

Mr. Ranjith is a loving father of three children. His wife is not employed and daughter is studying in a private university. One of the two sons works at the Dubai Hilton Hotel. The other son works as a guide in the wildlife department.

Mr. Ranjith’s address is W.D. Ranjith, No. 339, Mahayaya Road, Miriswatta, Beliatta.

Ussangoda National Park

The objectives of establishing National Parks are to provide long-term protection for the biological, archaeological and geographical values ​​of the area. Bordering the Kalamatiya Wildlife Sanctuary in the east, Ussangoda, which is a wonderful creation of nature, is a unique piece of land that has a lot of folklore around it and is a rare ecosystem with archaeological value. This is the 21st National Park in Sri Lanka. This area, which is located above the Kalamatiya sanctuary, has been known as Ussangoda since ancient times.

Ussangoda is a unique ecosystem located in southern Sri Lanka. It is located near Nonagama beach in Ambalantota area in the southern part of Sri Lanka. This arid ecosystem spread over an area of ​​349.077 hectares has been designated as a National Park under Gazette No.1652/49 dated 05.06.2010.

Ussangoda land area has a dark red layer of soil. It is spread over several hectares. What makes this plain spectacular is its widespread brownish-red soil layer. Scientists researching Ussangoda are of the opinion that this unique land was created due to a meteorite crash happened about 15 million years ago. Red colored soil and molten rocks from burning provide evidence to prove this hypothesis. A type of molten iron or rock can be seen in places on the red soil in Ussangoda. They are very heavy. According to scientific research, this soil contains 27% ferric oxide and 53% silicon oxide. Due to this high metal concentration,  trees do not grow here. The brick-red soil bears witness to this. The rock fragments exposed on the surface of the plateau are brownish-red, almost black in color and show a molten and liquefied form. It is believed that the rocks were melted by the extreme heat released during a meteorite explosion.

This beautiful area consists of two small hills high above the sea, a valley and two meadows.Although plants do not grow because of the red soil, thorny plants are spread throughout this land. Plants grow very rarely in Ussangoda. A few small bushes have grown in only a few places. Deposition of other layers of soil on top of the red soil, created an environment suitable for plants adapted to the arid environment such as bush plum (Carissa spinarum), cactus (Opuntia dillenii), and ereminia (Ziziphus species)etc. where they are appearing in places like Kalamatia of the sanctuary. Medicinal plants such as Fleshy spurge tree (Euphorbia antiquorum), Hinguru wel (Senegalia caesia), Ironwood tree (Memecylon umbellatum), Andara (Febacea sps), Kukuruman (Catunaregam spinosa), Katupila (Flueggea leucopyrus), Surya Kranti (Helianthus annuus), Vishnu Kranti (Volvulus alsinoides), Chandra Kranti (Ipomoea alba) are also found in this land. It is difficult to see plants on the red colored land sections. Only a special kind of grass has grown on it. At one end of Ussangoda is the ocean. Therefore, it is also an area that sinks to the sea very quickly. Tourists from far and wide who come to visit the meadows can also see the charming sight of the waves like white cotton balls reaching to kiss the shore. You can occasionally see turtles swimming freely in the shallow waters during the day.

Bush plum

Several species of birds can be seen. Eurasian thick- Knee (Burhinus oedicnemus), Jerdon’s bushlark (Mirafra affinis), Yellow-wattled lapwing (Vanellus malarbaricus), Red- wattled lapwing (Vanellus indicus), Indian roller (Coracias benghalensis), Little green bee eater (Merops orientalis) birds abound. There are also cases where beetle birds dig holes in the ground and build their nests. As wild animals, you can see wild boars (Sus scrofa), porcupines (Hystrix indica), spotted deer (Axis axis ceylonensis) to a limited extent, mouse or deer Spotted chevrotain (Moschiola meminna),Indian hare (Lepus nigricollis), Iguana(Varanus bengalensis), and water monitor (Varanus salvator)  near the coast.

Ussangoda, which is the origin of many events in history as well as many legends, is bordered by a small plot of land of about one square kilometer. As shown in satellite images on the Internet, this plot is shaped like a seahorse.

While traveling towards Kataragama from the Colombo-Kataragama main road, this area can be reached by turning right before the Nonagama junction and driving towards the sea for about 2 km. This area, which is the foundation of many myths that evoke mystery and curiosity, is very scenic and mind-blowing. The plains, which are seen as far as the eye can see, on the ridge that stands in the middle of the plains, which are spread out on both sides, enhance its beauty more and more. There are many legends, archaeological remains and literary information about Ussangoda. Some of them have arisen due to the unique features of this land. But some legends say that this land was formed due to other events that happened in the past. According to Hindu mythology, Ussangoda is believed to be the place where King Ravana’sDandumonara chariot is grounded. There are also several archaeological sites runs up to prehistoric times.

The Ussangoda National Park, located in the Welipatanwila area of ​​Ambalangoda, is controlled by the Kalamatiya Site Protection Office, which has been an area with great tourist attraction since the past.

List of animals in the Ussangoda National Park

 Sinhala Names

Tamil Names

English Names

Scientific Name

වල් ඌරා

காட்டுப் பன்றி

Wild boar

Sus scrofa




Hystrix indica

තිත් මුවා

புள்ளி மான்

Spotted deer

Axis axis ceylonensis


புள்ளி சருகு மான்

Spotted chevrotain

Moschiola meminna



Indian hare

Lepus nigricollis


இந்திய உடும்பு


Varanus bengalensis


நீர் உடும்பு

Water Monitor

Varanus salvator

ගොළු කිරලා

ஐரோவாசியா நத்தைக் குத்தி

Eurasian thick- Knee Burhinus oedicnemus

පඳුරු ගොමරිට්ටා



Mirafra affinis

හොට කහ කිරළා

மஞ்சள் மூக்கு ஆள்காட்டி

Yellow-wattled lapwing

Vanellus malarbaricus

හොට රතු කිරළා

சிவப்பு மூக்கு ஆள்காட்டி

Red- wattled lapwing

Vanellus indicus

දුම් බොන්නා


Indian roller

Coracias benghalensis

පුංචි බිඟුහරයා (කුරුමිණි කුරුල්ලා)

பச்சைப் பஞ்சுருட்டான்

Little green bee eater

Merops orientalis

List of trees in the Ussangoda National Park

Sinhala Name

Tamil Name

English Name

Scientific Name

මහ කරඹ


Bengal thorn karanda/ Jamson

Carissa carandas

හීන් කරඹ

சிறு கிளா

Bush plum

Carissa spinarum




Opuntia dillenii



Ziziphus species



Fleshy spurge tree

Euphorbia antiquorum

හිගුරු වැල්


Senegalia caesia



Ironwood tree

Memecylon umbellatum



Febacea sps



Spiny randia emetic- nut, false guava

Catunaregam spinosa




Flueggea leucopyrus

සූර්ය ක්‍රාන්ති


Sun flower

Helianthus annuus

විෂ්ණු ක්‍රාන්ති


Slender wart morning glory

Volvulus alsinoides

චන්ද්‍ර කාන්ති


Moon flower

Ipomoea alba

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

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, MWFRC

English Translations Asoka Palihawadana, Translator, MWFRC

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

PhotographySamantha Wickramarathne, DWLC