Maduru Oya is a national park that originated under the Mahaweli development project in 1983. It was declared as a 6th national park by a special gazette notification by the government of Sri Lanka. The national park has been able to accommodate the wild animal that lost their ancient living habitats due to the resettlement of farmers under the project.
The National park spread over nearly 58,849 hectares in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. In the initial stage, the national park was covering only 51,468 hectares of land but later it was widened to the present size. The National park is located on the border of Ampara, Badulla and Polonnaruwa districts. Several areas of the forest are dominated by grasslands and they are identified as the areas where the illegal timber harvesting took place in the past.
More than 15 per cent of the land area covered by the national park is consisting of lakes and reservoirs. There are many species of wild animals in the park; most common species are the elephant, wild boar, crocodile, deer, monkey and buffalo. There are rare occasions in which leopards are observed. The national park is a popular destination for bird lovers. It is inhabited by a large number of the resident as well as migrant bird species due to a large number of water resources such as lakes. The forest reserve harbours many species of endemic bird species of the country.
Maduru Oya is a national park as well as a popular archaeological site in the dry zone. There are remnants of an ancient Buddhist monastery within the orders of the park. Archaeologists have been able to discover several statues during the excavations at the site.
The park is consisting of huge grasslands which attract animals such as elephant, deer and buffalo. Grasslands provide a good source of food for the animal and on the other hand, they provide the best places for spotting wild animals.
The vegetation of the National park is categorized as the dry evergreen forests with patches of riverine vegetations along the borders of reservoirs and streams. The annual rainfall of the park estimated to be around 1,650mm and main rainy season falls from October to January and the North-East monsoon is the leading source of rain here.
The area of Madur Oya was on the radar of ancient engineers of Sri Lanka. A remnant of an ancient sluice was discovered during the excavations at the southern end of Maduru Oya dam. The age of ancient construction is confirmed to be more than 2000 years. According to the Mahawamsa, King Mahasen had built a reservoir here and it was renovated by King Vijayabahu the 1st and King Parakram Bahu the 1st.
Maha Oya is the nearest most populated city on the way to Maduru Oya National park and the distance from Maha Oya to Maduru Oya estimated to be 32 km. The journey from Maha Oya to Maduru Oya takes between 3-4 hours. Maha Oya is popular for its hot spring, and these natural springs produce warm water with the temperature of 50c.