Friday, 23 March 2012

Udawalawe National Park–Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Elephants (Elephas maximus maximus) are an endangered species and their survival in their natural habitats is threatened due to human activities. Elephants in the wild are constantly being killed, and many elephant calves become orphaned. In order to support these orphaned elephants, the Department of Wildlife Conservation set up the Elephant Transit Home within Udawalawe National Park with help from the Born Free Foundation.The facility was established under the 29th Amendment to the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance Part II.

Udawalawe National Park is an important habitat for water birds and Sri Lankan Elephants. It is a popular tourist destination and the third most visited park in the country.The national park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe reservoir on the Walawe River, as well as to protect the catchment of the reservoir.The reserve covers 30,821 hectares  of land area and was established on 30 June 1972.

As of 8 February 2009, 39 orphaned elephant calves were being looked after. The elephant calves are released to the jungle after they become strong enough to survive in their natural habitats. As of 2008, sixty-five elephants had been released to the jungle .

Sri Lankan Post issued the commemorative stamp set feature the Udawalawe National Park included its animal which live in the park on October 31, 2007. The issues represent in one souvenir sheet consist of two postage stamps depicted Sri  Lankan elephant , Ruddy mongoose and  4 postage  stamps depicted Ruddy mongoose, Water buffaloes, Elephas maximus,  Common Langur.

Water Buffaloes
The water buffalo  (Bubalus bubalis) is a large bovine animal, frequently used as livestock in the Indian Subcontinent, and also widely in South America, southern Europe, northern Africa, and elsewhere.
In 2000, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated there were approximately 158 million water buffalo in the world, with 97% of them (approximately 153 million animals) in Asia.There are established feral populations in northern Australia, but the dwindling true wild populations are thought to survive in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Thailand.  The domestic water buffalo, although derived from the wild water buffalo, is the product of thousands of years of selective breeding in either the Indian Subcontinent or Southeast Asia.
Water buffalo has promise as a major source of meat, even the milking ones. The water buffalo also is the classic work animal in Asia, an integral part of that continent’s traditional village farming structure, and also used for hauling cotton, pumping water in Pakistan and hauling logs in Turkey.

Common Langur
The northern plains gray langur (Semnopithecus entellus) is a species of primate in the Cercopithecidae family. It is found in India on the lowlands north of the Godavari and Krishna rivers and south of the Ganges. It is thought to be introduced to western Bangladesh by Hindu pilgrims on the bank of the Jalangi River. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical dry shrubland. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Ruddy Mongoose
The Ruddy Mongoose (Herpestes smithii) is a species of mongoose found in hill forests of peninsular India and Sri Lanka. This mongoose along with the Striped-necked Mongoose are the only mongoose species endemic to India and Sri Lanka.
The Ruddy mongoose is a very closely related to Indian grey mongoose, but distinguished by its slightly larger size and black tipped tail extending for 2 to 3 inches at the distal end. There are two sub-species of this mongoose, H. smithii smithii in India, and H. smithii zeylanicus (Thomas, 1852) in Sri Lanka.
The Ruddy mongoose is mainly a forest living animal in contrast to the grey and small Indian mongooses and prefers more secluded areas. They have also been recorded from secluded paddy fields and in comparatively open fields. Like other mongooses, it hunts by day and by night

Elephas  maximus
Since 1986, Elephas maximus has been listed as endangered by IUCN as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years. The species is pre-eminently threatened by habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation. In 2003, the wild population was estimated at between 41,410 and 52,345 individuals.The Asian  elephant (Elephas maximus) is the only living species of the genus Elephas and distributed in Southeast Asia from West India to the east Borneo. Asian elephants are rather long-lived, with a maximum recorded life span of 86 years.

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