Wildlife & Bird Sanctuaries
The Island nation of Sri Lanka is blessed with an abundant and myriad range of fauna which is supported by its great diversity in habitats. Sri Lanka has an excellent system of well managed national parks and reserves which ensures the continuation of this important natural resource for generations to come.
Sri Lanka wildlife is extensive and it is arguable that Sri Lanka has the highest instance of biological endemism in the world.
Without question the king of the Sri Lankan jungle is the Leopard, with Yala National Park fast being recognised as the premier destination for Leopard in the world. It is also arguable that Sri Lanka is one of the best destinations in the world to view the Asian Elephant. Of particular note is the spectacular wildlife event known as the “Gathering” where between August and September each year herds of up to three hundred elephants gather on the shores of the Minneriya tank.
A birdwatchers paradise with 443 recorded species of which 33 are endemic to Sri Lanka ( the Serendib Scops Owl was discovered as recently as 2001) For the butterfly enthusiast there are over 250 species of butterflies of which 20 are endemic to the island.
Yala National Park: The premier park in Sri Lanka is Yala. It is situated in the Southern coast of Sri Lanka. This 126,786 hectare park is without question one of the best parks in the world to see the Panthera pardus Kotiya the sub species of Leopard that is unique to Sri Lanka. The park is also teeming with Sri Lanka’s other major species being the Sloth Bear, Elephants, Water Buffalo, Spotted Deer and Sambhur deer, and estuarine Crocodiles.
Bundala National Park: Situated on the south coast of Sri Lanka, Bundala’s 62 square kilometres is a small but an important wetland sanctuary, home to over 150 types of birds. Migratory species from Siberia and the Rann of Kutch of India, winter at this park.
The scrub forest, lagoons and beaches that make up Bundala are also home to elephant, crocodile and are the breeding ground for five species of marine turtles. Leatherback, Loggerhead, Olive, Ridley and Green turtles lay their eggs on this coast between October and January of each year.
Wilpattu National Park (Currently closed to visitors)
Situated 176 km. north of Colombo, Wilpattu is approximately 1,908 square kilometres in extent. It has a dense jungle cover which makes it a more exciting park where animals have to be tracked. There are numerous delightful little lakes – known as villus – and the leopard and sloth bear are the specialty rather than elephants.
Wasgamuwa National Park
The Wasgamuwa National Park lies within the Polonnuruwa and Matale Districts and within the natural boundaries of the Mahaweli and Amban rivers as its eastern and western boundaries. Tropical , intermediate dry , mixed evergreen forest dominates this 37,000 hectare park, with many varieties of animals like wild elephant, deer, sloth bear, monkey, wild boar and crocodile.
Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park is situated 170 Km South East of Colombo. This National Park is approximately 30,821 hectares in extent. This Park is comprised primarily of grasslands and thorn shrubs and many valuable species of trees are found within it. The park is home to nearly 400 elephants. Deer species such as Spotted Deer, Sambhur, Barking deer and Langur, Wild Boar, Water Buffalo, & Jackal are some of the prominent wild animals found in this Park. This park is home to nearly 400 wild elephants.
Gal Oya National Park
Situated at Inginiyagala, the Gal Oya National Park is most renowned for its elephant population.
Minneriya National Park
Minneriya National Park approximately 8900 hectares in extent is in the Central North region of the country. This is one of the newest parks in Sri Lanka with a resident wild elephant population of nearly 200. Forest with high canopy provides an ideal habitat conditions for purple-faced leaf monkey and toque monkey. Minneriya is also a paradise for sambhur and spotted deer.
The ‘Gathering’ occurs in Minneriya between the months of August and September each year this spectacular wildlife event sees herds of elephant gather at the tank creating a super herd of up to 300 elephants.
Horton Plains National Park
The only National Park situated in the Hill Country. This park is a spectacular, silent and mysterious wilderness, situated at 2000m above sea level. The park is an undulating plateau covered by wild grasslands and interspersed with thickets of cloud forest.
Vehicles are not allowed in the park and visitors are invited to trek this wilderness, the most popular circuit takes visitors to the ‘World End ‘lookout , a stunning escarpment where the plains ends in a sheer cliff face that drops 880 meters.
The park is home to many important animal species including the sambhur, leopard, and the endemic purple monkey.