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National Park

Knuckles Mountain Range

  Province Central
  District Kandy
  Type of the Forest National park
  Established -
  Governing body Department of Wildlife Conservation
  Area 160Km2
  Introduction

The Knuckles is situated in the Districts of Kandy and Matale and extends from Laggala to Urugala a distance about 19Km, covers an area of 160Km2. The term Knuckles is used in three senses, namely, as the Knuckles Massif, the Knuckles Range, and the Knuckles Peaks. The Knuckles Massif about 90 square miles in extent, is a detached block of the central highlands, separated from the main highlands by the Dumbara valley. The Knuckles massif consists of the main north west trending offshoots from it. The knuckle range from the western part of the massif and extend northwards into Elahera and Matale areas and extends southwards as the Kobonilagala-Dotugala range upto the Nugatenna Gap. A group of five peaks that took like the Knuckles of a clenched fist. The highest point on the range is Gombaniya (1906m). the next highest point is the Knuckles (1864m). There are several other peaks in the range that rise over 5000ft. including Kirigalpotta (1648m), Dotugala (1575m) and Kobonilagala (1555m).The Knuckles is one of the world heritage site in Sri Lanka.

Access

Western boundaries of the massif – Teldeniya – Rangala – Madulkelle – Hulu ganga road

South eastern – Hunnasgiriya – Mahiyangana

Nothern flank – Rattota road

View points

Inner part of the massif you can see two view points; Laggala patana (northern flank) – Rattota via Matale (Gombaniya peak in northern side)

Corbert’s Gap along Hunnasgiriya – Loolwatte road (can see Kehelpothdoruwegala range)

Importance of the Knuckles

The Knuckles is the source of several rivers, including the Heen river, Kalu river and Hulu river. The western and southern slopes and eastern and central slopes of this range is catchment for the Mahaweli river. The Hulu river flows in the south eastwards, Maha oya and Heen river rising in the main range and flowing eastwards and joins the Mahaweli river. Teligam oya and Kalu river both flowing in north into the Amban river and joins the Mahaweli river.

Vegetation

The 1892Km2 of forest lying above 970m (3500ft) in the Knuckles massif are considered to be a unique ecosystem not found anywhere else in the world. The main vegetation types are;

Tropical semi – evergreen forest

The lowland or foothill forests which is an immediate zone between wet and dry zones, contains a mixture of dry and evergreen forest species. The main species are milla (Vitex altissima), Mora (Euphoria longana), Welang (Pterospermum canescens), Badulla and Attamba (Mangifera zeylanica). It also contains species typical of the lowland humid evergreen forest; Malaboda, Kataboda and Keena, In addition at Laggala – Pallegama, large trees of Katu Keena have been recorde. The understory include Memycylon spp. and Glycosmis pentaphylla while Drynaria quercifilix (Benduru) is the common fern found in this forest type.

Sub Montane Evergreen Forest

This type occurs near Madugoda and in the drier areas as one descend from Midlands to Illukkumbura along the Rattota. Found in lower slope of the hills i.e. 460-1060m (1500-3000ft.). The immediate climatic zone, and dry evergreen and semi-evergreen species predominant. Keena (Calophyllum walker) Etamba (Mangifera zeylanica) Maranda (Syzygium spathulatum), Gal weralu (Elaeocarpus glandulifer) and Katukurundu (Scolpia schreberi) are the most common species in this forest habitats Euonymus walker and Ginidia spp. (Nha) include in the shrub layer and also orchids and ferns are common in this forest. Such as Asplenium spp., Begonia dipetala, Selaginella species. Much of this forest type has been cleared for cardamom cultivation.

Mid elevation Evergreen Montane Forest

This forest type occupies the zone between the lowland wet evergreen rain forest and the typical montane evergreen forest of the upper montane areas of Sri Lanka. Many locations in the Knuckles this type of forest is well developed, such as at the Kabaragala in the central montane massif. The dominant tree species are Golumora (Cryptocarya wightiana), Talan (Litsea gardneri), Pelan (Bhesa Montana) and Gal weralu (Elaeocarpus glandulifer). Patches of wild bamboo and bata (Ochanda strides) species also present in this area.

Montane Evergreen Forest (Cloud Forest)

Found on the upper slopes, ridges and summits of the Knuckles range (1070-1890m). Rich in epiphytic orchids, ferns, mosses and liverworts. Single storied canopy is characteristic and Calophyllum spp. and Syzygium spp. are the dominant tree species. Undergrowth of Strobilanthes spp. and bamboos are the dominant and rich in various species of Kudalu.

Montane Grasslands (patana)

The patanas more closely associated with the exposed rock faces found from about 900-1000m elevation and at somewhat lower elevation. The Pitawalapatana grassland is a edaphic climax type situated in the Nothern flank of the Knuckles range. This is a wet patana grassland habitat (about 75ha). Brachystelma lankana (patan ala) and Dipcada Montana have been recorded only from this locality.

Weather and Season

November to mid January High possibility of Rain

Late January to April Hot and sunny during day time and temperatures are fairly comfortable during evenings. Less chance of rain, good time to trek

May to late August High possibility of Rain

Early September to late October Temperatures are fairly low. Less chance of rain good time to trek

Weather in the Knuckles range is extremely unpredictable, thick mist can cover mountains in a matter of minutes. Be prepared for rain Side Seems

• mountain peaks and valleys,

The term Knuckles is used in three senses, namely, as the Knuckles Massif

the Knuckles Range

the Knuckles Peaks

• unbelievably diverse in terms of climate, terrain, vegetation and obviously, animal life.

• Mini World’s end

• Deans ton Lake

  Physical features

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  History

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  Endemic varieties

Flora

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Founa

The knuckles massif abounds in a rich variety of plant and animal life. The mountain and their environs are the natural habitat of many species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and winged insects. Several of these are endemic to Sri Lanka and some are confined to this region.

The mammalian fauna is not very rich in this region. Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya), Sambar (Cervus unicolor), Mouse deer (Tragulus meminna), wild boar (Sus scrofa), Barking deer (Muntiacus munjak), Pangolin (Manis crassicandata), Purple-faced langur (Trachypithecus vetulus), Toque monkey (Macaca sinica), Dusky palm squirrel (Funambulus sublineatus) Giant squirrel (Ratufa macroura), Loris (Loris tardigradus) and Otter (Lutra lutra) are the recorded mammals in this range.

The reptile fauna is considerably higher than the other montane forests. Tennet’s horned lizard (Ceratophora tennenti) is endemic to Knuckles forest and not found anywhere else in the world. Flat nosed lizard (Ceratophora aspera) is confined to the Knuckles. The endemic Earless lizard (Octocryptis weigmanni) and Three banded green lizard (Calotes liocephalus), also present in this area. In addition to that Mukalan Palu Katussa (Lyriocephalus scutatus), Green pit viper, Cobra, Russels viper and Krait spp. recorded in this range.

The massif provide home for the large number of amphibian faunal species. Most of the amphibians are the Ranids (frogs), Microhylids and Rhacophorids (Tree and bush frogs). Marbled cliff frog (Nannophrys marmorata), is one of the confined species in this area.

Twenty eight species of fish fauna have been identified in the streams and water holes in the Knuckles massif, of which 9 are endemic to Sri Lanka. Phillip’s Gara (Garra phillipsi) Martenstyn’s barb (Puntius srilankensis are found only in the Knuckles.

This range is one of the most important and richest habitats in the hill country. Due to destruction of forest the numbers of bird species have declined in recent years. There are more than a hundred bird species present some of which are endemic to Sri Lanka. Of the 26 endemic bird species 18 have been recorded in the Knuckles region. Fourteen species have been recorded 18 migrants which can be observed here at different times of the year.

In addition, a large number of species of butterflies, spiders and insects have been found in the Knuckles and some are endemic to Sri Lanka. .