Udawalawe National Park situated in the borders of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces in Sri Lanka is one of the last refuges of the Sri Lankan Elephant, one of the subspecies of Asian Elephant. Protected by the rising highlands in its Northern boundary, Udawalawe is a wildland made of bush forest and grasslands.
Fed by the Walawe River and Udawalawe Reservoir, the park is home to herds of elephants, wild buffalo, sambar and spotted deer. The lack of dense vegetation makes for easy game watching and even the drive towards the park entrance will provide the visitors with the glimpse of elephants feeding.
A guided tour on safari vehicles through the park is enough to get your fill of these gentle giants, feeding, frolicking and tending their youngsters. In addition to the Sri Lankan elephants, visitors would be able to observe a unique collection of wet and dry zone birdlife concentrated within the park.
The open parkland tend to attract a number of birds of prey including White bellied sea eagle, Crested serpent eagle, Grey headed fish eagle, Booted eagle, and Changeable hawk eagle while a variety of water birds including cormorants, the spot-billed pelican, Asian Openbill, Painted Stork, Black-headed Ibis, and Eurasian Spoonbill gathers around the reservoir and water holes scattered within the park.
About 5 km West of the Udawalawe National Park lies Ath Athuru Sevana, a transit home for baby elephants that get orphaned or are injured. The facility houses nearly 40 juvenile elephants at any given time and they are eventually released to the Udawalawe National park after rehabilitation.
Unlike at other elephant orphanages in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in the world, visitors to the facility cannot get up-close and personal with playful baby elephants but are allowed to watch them feed which is a great attraction.