National Parks and Wildlife

Closely following the Buddhist tradition of conservation that dates back over 2,000 years, Sri Lanka features no fewer than nine national parks and seven bird sanctuaries. Among the 12, 259 endangered species listed by the World Conservation Union, 43 can be found in the island’s national parks. Sri Lanka though small in size is one of the few places on earth where the world’s largest land and sea mammals can be seen in a day. Home to the inimitable Asian Elephant, Sri Lanka’s southern Ocean waters are the playground to the giants of the sea- the docile Blue Whales.

Kumana National Park

Situated on the border of the Yala National Park, Kumana renowned for its avifauna, especially its large flocks of migratory water fowl and wading birds. 255 species of birds have been recorded at the Kumana Bird Sanctuary, with rare species such as the black-necked stork, the lesser adjuant, Eurasian spoonbill and the great thick-knee being breeding inhabitants.

Uda Walawe National Park

The third most visited National Park in the island, Udawalawe is a myriad of interesting flora and fauna due to the presence of the Udawalawe reservoir on the Walawe river, the surrounding marshes, forests and grasslands. Another important habitat for the elephant (a herd of about 250 is believed to be permanently resident) and a recorded number of 12 amphibian species, 21 species of fish, 33 reptiles, 184 species of birds and 43 mammals.

Wilpattu National park

Aptly named due to the existence of numerous ‘ willus’ or natural basins that fill with rainwater, Wilpattu is situated in the Northwest coast, lowland, dry zone. One of the largest and oldest National Parks, Wilpattu is renowned for its leopard population along with 31 species of mammals and an abundance of wetland bird species.

Horton Plains National Park

Home to more than half of Sri Lanka’s vertebrates, half of the island’s endemic flowering plants and more than 34% of its endemic trees and shrubs, the Horton Plains is a mist shrouded and breathtaking wonder and ideal for trekking, hiking and camping. Added to the mystery and romance, one could enjoy the splendor of the leopard, the sambhur, the endemic purple-faced langur, the Sri Lanka bush warbler and the yellow-eared bulbul.

Yala National Park

The second largest national park in Sri Lanka, Yala is situated in the Southeast part of the island in the dry, semi-arid climate region, bordering the Indian Ocean. The number of mammals recorded at Yala is as high as 44 while it also boasts of one of the highest leopard densities in the world. None other than the majestic Sri Lankan elephant and the leopard, take pride of place at this amazing national park. Accommodation- in terms of hotels, the spacious and modern Yala Village takes precedence while the “Tree tops jungle lodge”, “Galapita” and the “Thippola bunglow” offer interesting and eco-friendly accommodation.

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