Kumana National Park

Kumana National Park in Sri Lanka is renowned for its avifauna, particularly its large flocks of migratory waterfowl and wading birds. The park is 391 kilometres (243 mi) southeast of Colombo on Sri Lanka's southeastern coast.[2] Kumana is contiguous with Yala National Park.[3] Kumana was formerly known as Yala East National Park, but changed to its present name on 5 September 2006.[4]

Kumana National Park
Kudumbigala Sanctuary in Kumana National Park
Kumana National Park
LocationEastern Province, Sri Lanka
Nearest cityHambantota
Coordinates6°30′47″N 81°41′16″E
Area35,664 hectares (88,130 acres)
Established20 January 1970
Governing bodyDepartment of Wildlife Conservation
Official nameKumana Wetland Cluster
Designated29 October 2010
Reference no.1931[1]

The park was closed from 1985 to March 2003 because of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam) attacks. It was also affected by the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004.[5]

Physical features

Kumbukkan Oya forms the southern boundary of the national park.[3] Some 20 lagoons and tanks support the extensive birdlife of the national park.[6] The lagoons are shallow with depths less than 2 metres (6.6 ft). Kumana villu is subject to occasional inundation with seawater. The elevation of the area ranges from sea level to 90 metres (300 ft). The mean annual temperature is 27.30 °C (81.14 °F) and the area receives 1,300 millimetres (51.18 in) of annual rainfall.


The park's wetland areas are surrounded by dry zone tropical thorn forest. The inland forest's flora is dominated by Manilkara hexandra (Sinhalese "palu"), Hemicyclea sepieria, Bauhinia racemosa, Cassia fistula ("ehela"), Chloroxylon swietenia ("burutha"), and Salvadora persica species.[3] The dominant tree of the Kumana villu is Sonneratia caseolaris, while Typha angustifolia is the dominant reed. Terminalia arjuna trees dominate the riverine forests along the Kumbukkan Oya. The common aquatic plants of the swamp are colourful Ludwigia spp., Nelumbo nucifera, Nymphaea pubescens, Aponogeton spp. and Neptunia oleracea.


Kumana Bird Sanctuary, declared in 1938, is included within the Kumana National Park.[3] Kumana is one of the most important bird nesting and breeding grounds in Sri Lanka. 255 species of birds have been recorded in the national park.[6] From April to July tens of thousands of birds migrate to the Kumana swamp area. Rare species such as black-necked stork, lesser adjutant, Eurasian spoonbill, and great thick-knee are breeding inhabitants.[3] Waders belonging to families Scolopacidae and Charadriidae are among the visitors to the area along with waterfowl. Pintail snipes migrate here flying 9,000 kilometres (5,600 mi) to 11,000 kilometres (6,800 mi) from Siberia.[7] Asian openbill, glossy ibis, purple heron, great egret, Indian pond heron, black-crowned night heron, intermediate egret, little egret, spot-billed pelican, Indian cormorant, little cormorant, common moorhen, watercock, purple swamphen, white-breasted waterhen, pheasant-tailed jacana, black-winged stilt, lesser whistling duck and little grebe are the bird species migrate here in large flocks.[8] Among the rare birds that migrate to the swap are the yellow-footed green pigeon, greater racket-tailed drongo, Malabar trogon, red-faced malkoha, and sirkeer malkoha. Pacific golden plover, greater sand plover, lesser sand plover, grey plover, ruddy turnstone, little ringed plover, wood sandpiper, marsh sandpiper, common redshank, common sandpiper, curlew sandpiper, little stint, common snipe, and pintail snipe are the common wading birds of the park.[8]

Tilapia and mullet are the commonly fished varieties in the area while Channa spp. are also caught occasionally. Mugger crocodile, Indian flap-shelled turtle and Indian black turtle are the common reptiles inhabiting the park. Mammals such as golden jackal, wild boar, Sri Lankan elephant, European otter, and fishing cat also visit the swamp to feed. The number of elephants roaming in the Kumana is estimated at 30–40.[9]

Cultural significance and conservation

The Kumana area is part of an ancient civilization that goes back to the 3rd century BC.[3] Rock inscriptions belonging to the 2nd and 1st centuries BC have also been found in the region. The Kumana National Park lies on the route of the traditional annual foot Pilgrimage to the Hindu temple at Kataragama.[10] Both Tamil and Sinhalese communities take part in this pilgrimage.

The number of birds observed in the national park has fallen in recent years.[11] Environmentalists and wildlife lovers have expressed their concern over a road planned to be constructed from Kirinda to Panama which will run along the coastline of the park.[12]

Flora and fauna of Kumana

See also


  1. "Kumana Wetland Cluster". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  2. de Livera, Lankika (14 August 2005). "Wild at its wildest". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
  3. "Yala East National Park". iwmi.org. International Water Management Institute. 2006. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
  4. Mendis, Risidra (18 October 2006). "Yala East becomes Kumana National Park". The Morning Leader. Archived from the original on 2 March 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
  5. Kariyawasam, Dayananda (3 March 2005). "Major plan under way to restore Lanka's natural ecosystems". Daily News. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
  6. Senarathna, P.M. (2005). Sri Lankawe Wananthara (in Sinhala) (1st ed.). Sarasavi Publishers. pp. 222–223. ISBN 955-573-401-1.
  7. Schokman, Derrick (21 June 2003). "Yala beckons again". Daily News. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
  8. Senarathna, P.M. (2004). Sri Lankawe Jathika Vanodhyana (in Sinhala) (2nd ed.). Sarasavi Publishers. pp. 129–149. ISBN 955-573-346-5.
  9. "Elephant Conservation – An Overview". Department of Wildlife Conservation. Archived from the original on 2 October 2005. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
  10. Sandrasagra, Manik (18 August 2002). "Pilgrims brave land mines, jungle poachers,drought in ancient annual trek". Sunday Observer. Archived from the original on 26 October 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
  11. Saldin, Marlon (22 July 2001). "Wild paradise". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
  12. Inoon, Ayesha (11 June 2006). "Yala road at crossroads". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
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