|Horton Plains National Park|
|හෝර්ටන් තැන්න ජාතික උද්යානය|
World's End, a sheer precipice within the park
|Location||Central province, Sri Lanka|
|Nearest city||Ohiya and Nuwara Eliya|
|Area||3,160 ha (12.2 sq mi)|
|Established||1969 (Nature reserve)|
1988 (National park)
|Governing body||Department of Wildlife Conservation|
|World Heritage site||2010 (within the site Central Highlands of Sri Lanka)|
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Criteria||Natural: ix, x|
|Inscription||2010 (34th session)|
|Buffer zone||72,645 ha|
Horton Plains National Park (Sinhala : හෝර්ටන් තැන්න ජාතික උද්යානයHortan Thænna Jathika Udyanaya) is a national park in the central highlands of Sri Lanka that was designated in 1988. It is located at an elevation of 2,100–2,300 m (6,900–7,500 ft) and encompasses montane grassland and cloud forest. It is rich in biodiversity and many species found here are endemic to the region. It is also a popular tourist destination and is situated 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Ohiya, 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the world-famous Ohiya Gap/Dondra Watch and 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Nuwara Eliya.
The Horton Plains are the headwaters of three major Sri Lankan rivers, the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe. In Sinhala the plains are known as Maha Eliya Plains (මහ එළිය තැන්න). Stone tools dating back to Balangoda culture have been found here. The plains' vegetation is grasslands interspersed with montane forest and includes many endemic woody plants. Large herds of Sri Lankan sambar deer feature as typical mammals and the park is also an Important Bird Area with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka but restricted to the Horton Plains. Forest dieback is one of the major threats to the park and some studies suggest that it is caused by a natural phenomenon.
The sheer precipice of World's End and Baker's Falls are among the tourist attractions of the park.
In 20th century there are some records of elephants again in the park.[ citation needed ]
Horton Plains is located on the southern plateau of the central highlands of Sri Lanka. 2,389 metres (7,838 ft)) and Thotupola Kanda (2,357 metres (7,733 ft)), the second and the third highest of Sri Lanka, are situated to the west and north respectively. The park's elevation ranges from 1,200–2,300 metres (3,900–7,500 ft). The rocks found in the park belong to the Archaean age and belong to the high series of the Precambrian era and are made up of Khondalites, Charnockites and granitic gneisses. The soil type is of the red-yellow podsolic group and the surface layer is covered with decayed organic matter.The peaks of Kirigalpoththa (
The mean annual rainfall is greater than 2,000 millimetres (79 in). Frequent cloud cover limits the amount of sunlight that is available to plants. The mean annual temperature is 13 °C (55 °F) but the temperature varies considerably during the course of a day, reaching as high as 27 °C (81 °F) during the day time, and dipping as low as 5 °C (41 °F) at night. During the southwest Monsoon season, the wind speed sometimes reaches gale force. Although some rain falls throughout the year, a dry season occurs from January–March. The ground frost is common in February. Mist can persist in the most of the day during the wet season. Many pools and waterfalls can be seen in the park, and Horton Plains is considered the most important watershed in Sri Lanka. The Horton Plains are the headwaters of important rivers such as the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe. The plains also feeds Belihul Oya, Agra Oya, Kiriketi Oya, Uma Oya, and Bogawantalawa Oya. Due to its high elevation, fog and cloud deposit a considerable amount of moisture on the land. Slow moving streams, swamps, and waterfalls are the important wetland habitats of the park.
The original name of the area was Maha Eliya Thenna (මහ එළිය තැන්න - "great open plain"). But in the British period the plains were renamed after Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton, the British governor of Ceylon from 1831 to 1837, who travelled to the area to meet the Ratemahatmaya of Sabaragamuwa in 1836, 6-metre (20 ft) pollen core extracted from a mire revealed that in the late quaternary period the area had a semi-arid climate and a species-restricted plant community.in 1834 by Lt William Fisher of the 78th Regiment and Lt. Albert Watson of the 58th Regiment, who 'discovered' the plateau. Stone tools dating back to Balangoda culture have been found here. The local population who resided in the lowlands ascended the mountains to mine gems, extract iron ore, construct an irrigational canal and fell trees for timber. A
Since Sri Lanka has a long non-written history, there is a significant and logical folk story, which also goes with the epic 'Ramayana' with some deviations. It is believed that Thotupala mountain in Horton plain to be the place where King Rawana landed his aircraft, 'Dandumonaraya'. According to the story King Rawana kidnapped Sitha, who was the wife of Rama as a revenge for cutting King Rawana's sister, Suparnika's nose. It provoked Rama in India and he led an army that consisted of monkey like humans, whose leader was Hanuman. In the story, Hanuman set fire to Horton plains and that fire lasted for a long time. The original name, Maha Eliya Thenna carries the meaning, 'The hugely lighten ground'. Even now the upper layer of soil can be seem in a blackish grey colour. There had been some soil tests done by local universities, and it revealed that upper layer contains a high amount of Calcium Carbonate and Potash. For Sri Lankans, Horton Plains is very significant in their History and Culture.[ citation needed ]
Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker had advised the British Government "to leave all Montane Forests above 5000 ft. undisturbed" and an administrative order to this effect had been issued in 1873 that prevented clearing and felling of forests in the region. Horton Plains was designated as a wildlife sanctuary on 5 December 1969, 3,160 hectares (12.2 sq mi). Horton Plains contains the most extensive area of cloud forest still existing in Sri Lanka. On July 2010, the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka which incorporates Horton Plains National Park, Peak Wilderness Sanctuary and Knuckles Mountain Range was inscribed on the World Heritage List.and because of its biodiversity value, was elevated to a national park on 18 March 1988. The Peak Wilderness Sanctuary which lies in west is contiguous with the park. The land area covered by Horton Plains is
The vegetation of the park is classified into two distinctive groups, 2,000 ha (7.7 sq mi) of wet patna (Sinhalese: patana, montane grasslands) and 1,160 ha (4.5 sq mi) of subtropical montane evergreen forests. Nearly 750 species of plants belonging to 20 families have been recorded from the park. The forest canopy reaches the height of 20 m (66 ft) and features Calophyllum walkeri , forming communities with varieties of Myrtaceae species such as Syzygium rotundifolium , and S. sclerophyllum, and Lauraceae members including Litsea , Cinnamomum , and Actinodaphne speciosa. The undergrowth layer is characterised by Strobilanthes spp. The thickness of the Strobilanthes vegetation hinders the development of a herb layer. Dwarf bamboo species such Indocalamus and Ochlandra also found in the undergrowth layer. Rhodomyrtus tomentosa bushes specially grow in forest margin and near the mountain peaks. Species such as Gordonia and Rhododendron arboreum have spread to Sri Lanka, along the Western Ghats of South India from the Himalayas and are now common. Nearly 54 woody plant species have been recorded from the park, of which 27 (50%) are endemic to Sri Lanka. Frequent fire and grazing characterises Plagioclimax communities of the grassland flora. Grasslands are dominated by Arundinella villosa and Chrysopogon zeylanicus. Waterlogged swamps or slow moving streams are found in low-lying areas, and macrophytes such as Aponogeton jacobsenii, sedge species Isolopis fluitans and Utricularia spp. are found near the slow moving streams. The bamboo Chimonobambusa densifolia thrive along the banks of the streams, and near the swampy areas grass species such as Juncus prismatocarpus, Garnotia mutica, Eriocaulon spp. and Exacum trinervium are common. Tussock grasses such as Chrysopogon zeylanicus and Cymbopogon confertiflorus are found in the wet hollows. Herbaceous flora of the grasslands include temperate species including Ranunculus , Pedicularis , Senecio , Gentiana and Alchemilla and also tropical species such as Eriocaulon and Ipsea speciosa (a rare endemic daffodil orchid). The most widespread boreal herbaceous plants of the park are Viola , Lobelia , Gaultheria , Fragaria , and Plantago .
Tree trunks and branches are ornamented with many species of ferns, Lycopodium , lichens, and orchids.Old man's beard ( Usnea barbata) hanging from branches adds to the beauty of the forests. About 16 of the orchid species being endemic. Other notable plants include shrubs such as Rhodomyrtus tomentosa , Gaultheria fragrantissima, herbs, Exacum trinervium, E. walkeri, Drosera indica , and tree ferns Cyathea spp. Anzia , a foliose lichen genus belonging to the family Parmeliaceae, which had not been recorded in Sri Lanka before, was discovered here in 2007. There are conflicting views on how the grasslands of the park came into being, whether man-made or natural. It is now believed that the grasslands on the dry slopes were created by forest clearance and fires while grasslands in low-lying areas were naturally created by wet conditions, frost and soil erosion.
The vertebrate fauna of the region includes 24 species of mammals, 87 species of birds, nine species of reptiles and eight species of amphibians.The Sri Lankan elephant disappeared from the region in the 1940s at the latest. At present, the largest and the most commonly seen mammal is the sambar deer. Some research findings estimate the population of sambar deer to be around 1500 to 2000, possibly more than the carrying capacity of the plains. Other mammal species found in the park include Kelaart's long-clawed shrews, toque macaques, purple-faced langurs, rusty-spotted cat, Sri Lankan leopards, wild boars, stripe-necked mongooses, Sri Lankan spotted chevrotains, Indian muntjacs, and grizzled giant squirrels. Fishing cats and European otters visit the wetlands of the park to prey on aquatic animals. A subspecies of red slender loris, the Horton Plains slender loris (Loris tardigradus nycticeboides formerly sometimes considered as Loris lydekkerianus nycticeboides) is found only in highlands of Sri Lanka and is considered one of the world's most endangered primates. In July 2010 a group of researchers from the Zoological Society of London was able to photograph the mammal for the first time.
In 2016, rusty-spotted cats (Prionailurus rubiginosus) were recorded in Horton Plains National Park for the first time, at altitudes of 2,084–2,162 m (6,837–7,093 ft).
Along with Ohiya, Pattipola and Ambewela, Horton Plains forms one of the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka.Together with the adjacent Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, Horton Plains contains 21 bird species which occur only on Sri Lanka. Four, Sri Lanka blue magpie, dull-blue flycatcher, Sri Lanka white-eye, and Sri Lanka wood pigeon, occur only in Horton plains, while other endemic species include Sri Lanka spurfowl, Sri Lanka junglefowl, yellow-fronted barbet, orange-billed babbler, Sri Lanka bush warbler, and Sri Lanka whistling-thrush. Many birds migrate here in winter including swiftlets, and alpine swift. Crested serpent eagle, mountain hawk-eagle, black-winged kite, and peregrine falcon are among the birds of prey found in Horton Plains. Harriers are among the migratory raptors. This is a key wildlife area. All six highland endemic birds are found here, including dull-blue flycatcher, Sri Lanka white-eye, Sri Lanka wood pigeon, and Sri Lanka bush warbler. Yellow-eared bulbul and black-throated munia are widespread throughout the highlands.
Sri Lanka is considered a herpetological paradise in the world. km of one stream.Possibly about 15 amphibian species inhabit the park. Among them are Microhyla zeylanica , Ramanella palmata , Fejervarya greenii , Rana gracilis , Philautus alto , Philautus femoralis , Philautus frankenbergi , Philautus microtympanum , Philautus schmarda , and Polypedates eques . De Silva has observed six endemic reptiles from the plains. They are Calotes nigrilabris , rhino horn lizard, Cophotis ceylanica , Lankascincus taprobanensis , common rough-sided snake, and rat snake. Two fish species found in the park, common carp and rainbow trout; both are introduced species. Horton Plains is also home to many endemic crustaceans including Caridina singhalensis and Perbrinckia species. The endemic freshwater shrimp Caridina singhalensis is found only in streams that have a temperature of less than 15 degrees C and is now restricted to only a stretch of 10
Horton Plains was a part of a large system of plains and forest cover that included Agra-Bopats, Moon Plains and Elk Plains.Between 1831 and 1948, it became a Sambar deer hunting ground. Elephants and Wild Boar were also hunted to a lesser extent. During this period lower slopes were cleared initially for coffee and then for tea plantations. As a result, Horton Plains and Peak Wilderness became isolated from other forest and grassland areas. Potatoes were cultivated in the grasslands but planting ceased in 1977. After being declared a National Park, these areas were reinstated as grasslands. Tourism-related issues such as plant removal, littering, fires and noise pollution are major conservation issues. Gem mining, timber logging, the collection of plants for ornamental and medicinal purposes, encroachment, poaching and vehicle traffic are the other threats. The spread of invasive alien species such as gorse ( Ulex europaeus ), Mist Flower ( Ageratina riparia ), Crofton Weed ( Ageratina adenophora ), ( Austroeupatorium ), Blue Stars ( Aristea ecklonii ), brackens, and Pennisetum spp. threaten the native flora. The introduced rainbow trout may have affected endemic species of fish, amphibia and crustaceans.
Owing to the relatively small size of the Horton Plains National Park, it was predicted that most male leopards have activity centers that were outside the park.Hence, continued protection of the national park and integrated management of landscapes outside of the national park is essential for conservation of the species there.
Some sambar deer have died due to eating polythene litter that blocked their food passages, and visitors are banned from bringing polythene into the park.Sambar have benefited from the introduced Pennisetum grass species.
A recent threat, first reported in 1978, is forest dieback.In some areas, especially in the peripheral region, this has been severe with nearly a 50% in vegetation. Water deficiency has been attributed as the main cause of dieback as droughts are becoming more frequent. Regrowth of forest is hindered by frost which is increasingly severe. The forest dieback has affected 22 species of plants with Calophyllum walkeri being the most affected. A study has suggested that low calcium causes soil acidification and increased toxicity caused by metallic elements such as aluminium may be causing the dieback. Leaching of nutrients and the resulting imbalance in soil micronutrients may also be contributing to the dieback.
Horton Plains is a popular tourist destination, with World's End being the key attraction. US$ 0.17 million). The park is accessed by the Nuwara Eliya-Ambewela-Pattipola and Haputale-Boralanda roads, and there are railway stations at Ohiya and Ambewela.In the six months ending in August 2009, Horton Plains National Park earned a revenue of Rs. 20.1 million (
World's End is a sheer precipice with a 870 m (2,854 ft) drop. It is situated at the southern boundary of the park. Another cliff known as the Lesser World's End of 270 m (886 ft) is located not far from World's End.
Baker's Falls, a waterfall formed by Belihul Oya, a tributary of the Walawe River is named after Sir Samuel Baker, a hunter and explorer 20 metres (66 ft) high. Slab Rock Falls is another well-known waterfall in the plains. The waterfall can be reached by walking on one of the main trails; the trail is a bit steep at the end but the difficulty level is medium to easy.who attempted to establish a European agricultural settlement at Nuwara Eliya. The waterfall is
The red slender loris is a small, nocturnal strepsirrhine primate native to the rainforests of Sri Lanka. This is No. 6 of the 10 focal species and No. 22 of the 100 EDGE mammal species worldwide considered the most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered. Two subspecies have been identified, L. t. tardigradus and L. t. nycticeboides.
Nuwara Eliya is a city in the hill country of the Central Province, Sri Lanka. Its name means "city on the plain " or "city of light". The city is the administrative capital of Nuwara Eliya District, with a picturesque landscape and temperate climate. It is at an altitude of 1,868 m (6,128 ft) and is considered to be the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka. The city is overlooked by Pidurutalagala, the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya is known for its temperate, cool climate – the coolest area in Sri Lanka.
Yala (යාල) National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka, bordering the Indian Ocean. The park consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public, and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names such as, Ruhuna National Park, and Kumana National Park or 'Yala East' for the adjoining area. It is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. The park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi) and is located about 300 kilometres (190 mi) from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants, Sri Lankan leopards and aquatic birds.
The Sri Lanka dry-zone dry evergreen forests are a tropical dry broadleaf forest ecoregion of the island of Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lanka montane rain forests is an ecoregion found above 1000 m in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Owing to their rich biodiversity, this region considered a super-hotspot within the endemism hotspot of global importance. These forests are cooler than lowland forests and therefore they have ideal conditions for growth of cloud forests. Half of Sri Lanka's endemic flowering plants and 51 percent of the endemic vertebrates are restricted to these forests. More than 34 percent of Sri Lanka's endemic trees, shrubs, and herbs can only be found in this ecoregion. Twisted, stunted trees are a common sight in these forests, together with many varieties of orchids, mosses and ferns. The trees of montane rain forests grow to a height 10–15 meters, shorter than the lowland rain forest trees. These high altitude forests are the catchment area for most of Sri Lanka's major rivers.
Pseudophilautus alto is a species of frogs in the family Rhacophoridae. It is endemic to the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka and known from the Horton Plains and Pattipola.
The rhino-horned lizard, also commonly known as Stoddart's unicorn lizard and the horned agama, is a species of lizard in the family Agamidae. The species is endemic to Sri Lanka. It is called kagamuva angkatussa-කගමුව අං කටුස්සා in Sinhala.
Ambewela is a small town, or a hill station, located in the Nuwara Eliya District of Sri Lanka. The area is also sometimes called "Little New Zealand". The town is situated approximately 17 km (11 mi) south-east of the district capital Nuwara Eliya. Ambewela is also a service center to the New Galway tea planting district.
The Knuckles Mountain Range lies in central Sri Lanka, in the Districts of Matale and Kandy. The range takes its name from a series of recumbent folds and peaks in the west of the massif which resemble the knuckles of clenched fist when viewed from certain locations in the Kandy District. Whilst this name was assigned by early British surveyors, the Sinhalese residents have traditionally referred to the area as Dumbara Kanduvetiya meaning Mist-laden Mountain Range.
Ohiya (ඔහිය) is a rural village located in Badulla District of Uva Province, Sri Lanka. It is much closer to the Horton Plains National Park. The picturesque Colombo -Badulla Railyway runs through Ohiya. Ohiya is in the Welimada Divisional Secretariat Division and the Grama Niladhari Division number is 62A.
Gal Oya National Park in Sri Lanka was established in 1954 and serves as the main catchment area for Senanayake Samudraya, the largest reservoir in Sri Lanka. Senanayake Samudraya was built under the Gal Oya development project by damming the Gal Oya at Inginiyagala in 1950. An important feature of the Gal Oya National Park is its elephant herd that can be seen throughout the year. Three important herbs of the Ayurveda medicine, triphala: Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellirica and Emblica officinalis are amongst the notable flora of the forest. From 1954 to 1965 the park was administrated by the Gal Oya Development Board until the Department of Wildlife Conservation took over administration. The national park is situated 314 km (195 mi) from Colombo.
Lunugamvehera National Park in Sri Lanka was declared in 1995, with the intention of protecting the catchment area of the Lunugamvehera reservoir and wildlife of the area. The national park is an important habitat for water birds and elephants. The catchment area is vital to maintain the water levels of the five tanks in the down stream of Kirindi Oya and wetland characteristics of Bundala National Park. This national park also serves as a corridor for elephants to migrate between Yala National Park and Udawalawe National Park. The national park is situated 261 km (162 mi) southwest from Colombo. After being closed because of the Sri Lankan civil war, the national park is now open to the general public.
Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve is one of the three strict nature reserves in Sri Lanka, the only one in the wet zone. The reserve is an important although isolated cloud forest which supports a number of faunal species including some endemics. The area was designated a strict nature reserve on 25 February 1938. The reserve is adjacent to and contiguous with the Hakgala Botanical Garden which was founded in 1860.
Kaudulla National Park is a national park on the island of Sri Lanka located 197 kilometres (122 mi) away from the largest city, Colombo. It was designated a national park on April 1, 2002 becoming the 15th such area on the island. In the 2004–2005 season more than 10,000 people visited the National Park, generating an income of Rs.100,000 from entrance fees. Along with Minneriya and Girithale BirdLife International have identified Kaudulla as an Important Bird Area.
Angammedilla National Park is one of the new national parks in Sri Lanka. The region was designated national park on 6 June 2006. Originally Angammedilla was a forest reserve within the Minneriya-Girithale Sanctuary declared on 12 February 1988. The park is declared mainly to protect the drainage basin of Parakrama Samudra. Angammedilla also secures the drainage basins of Minneriya and Girithale irrigation tanks, water sources in Sudu Kanda and habitats and wildlife of the adjacent forests. It is located 225 kilometres (140 mi) away from Colombo in Polonnaruwa District.
Minneriya National Park is a national park in North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The area was designated as a national park on 12 August 1997, having been originally declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. The reason for declaring the area as protected is to protect the catchment of Minneriya tank and the wildlife of the surrounding area. The tank is of historical importance, having been built by King Mahasen in third century AD. The park is a dry season feeding ground for the elephant population dwelling in forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa, and Trincomalee districts. The park earned revenue of Rs. 10.7 million in the six months ending in August 2009. Along with Kaudulla and Girithale, Minneriya forms one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Sri Lanka. The park is situated 182 kilometres (113 mi) from Colombo.
Central Highlands of Sri Lanka is a recognised world Heritage Site in Sri Lanka. The site comprises the Peak Wilderness Protected Area, the Horton Plains National Park and the Knuckles Conservation Forest. These are rain forests, where the elevation reaches 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) above sea level. The region harbors a variety of mammal species including the bear monkey, Trachypithecus vetulus monticola, and the Horton Plains slender loris, Loris tardigradus nycticeboides,.
Flood Plains National Park is one of the four national parks set aside under the Mahaweli River development project in Sri Lanka. The park was created on 7 August 1984. The national park is situated along the Mahaweli flood plain and is considered a rich feeding ground for elephants. Flood Plains National Park is considered an elephant corridor for the elephants migrate between Wasgamuwa and Somawathiya national parks. The park is situated 222 kilometres (138 mi) north-east of Colombo.
Maduru Oya National Park is a national park of Sri Lanka, established under the Mahaweli development project and also acts as a catchment of the Maduru Oya Reservoir. The park was designated on 9 November 1983. Providing a sanctuary to wildlife, especially for elephants and protecting the immediate catchments of five reservoirs are the importance of the park. A community of Vedda people, the indigenous ethnic group of Sri Lanka lives within the park boundary in Henanigala. The park is situated 288 kilometres (179 mi) north-east of Colombo.
Calotes nigrilabris, the black-lipped lizard, is an agamid species endemic to Sri Lanka. It can be distinguished easily from painted-lipped lizard by having black bar on mouth rather than white or orange bar.