Sri Lanka is a paradise for
animal lovers who enjoy animal or bird watching. There are many
national parks and sanctuaries in Sri Lanka that offer you an
opportunity to observe a real wildlife once in your lifetime. The
animals that roam the national parks and sanctuaries are variety.
Example of animals that you can see in a national park such as
Yala National Park are elephants, leopards, sloth bears, deer and
monkeys, wild buffalos, wild boars (pig), porcupines, ant-eaters,
civet cats, jackals, mongooses, Loris (unique to Sri Lanka),
several varieties of lizards, squirrels, reptiles and amphibians.
Yala (Ruhuna) National Park
Yala National Park is 309 km
south of Colombo on the southeast of the island. It is well known
for its biggest, extensive the area of 1,259 sq km, and for its
best wildlife preservation in the country. With it considerable
size, the terrain of the national park is varied from flat plains
to rocky outcrops. The vegetation ranges from open parkland to
dense jungle. There are also abundance of water supply for animals
and birds ranging from waterholes, streams, small lakes to
lagoons. The national park is divided into Yala West (also called
Ruhuna) and Yala East.
Yala West or Ruhuna National Park
is now well recognized for the best park in the world to observe
and photograph leopards. There are about 35 leopards in the park
which probably is the highest density than anywhere in the world.
It is possible to take one day jeep-safari trip through the park
although it takes you three days to see the entire park. The park
is usually closed relatively late (almost 7.00 pm) therefore the
chance to come across one of the leopards is quite high.
As well as leopards there are a
large number of elephants living inside the park and these can be
seen bathing in anyone of the numerous lakes within the park.
Other animal living in the park include sloth bear, spotted deer,
barking deer, mouse deer, toque monkey, stripe-necked mongoose,
ruddy mongoose, wild pig, jackal, water monitor, marsh crocodile
and estuarine crocodile.
Also, 130 species of birds have
been recorded here, they includes Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl,
Brown-capped Babbler, Stone Curlew, Greater Thick-knee,
Black-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Painted Stork, Sirkeer
Malkoha, Blue-faced Malkoha, Green Bee-eater, Pompadour Green
Pigeon, Blue-faced Malkoha, Green Bee-eater Orange-breasted Green
Pigeon, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Brahminya Myna and Rose-colored
A large variety of water birds
also can be seen in the Kumana Mangrove Swamp inside the Yala
East, which is 180 sq km in extent. Yala East National Park can be
entered at Okanda, 25 km down the coast track south of Arugam Bay
via the small town of Panama. Going to Yala East is not always
possible as it is officially closed however a three-hour round
trip can be arranged from Arugam Bay.
Gal Oya National Park
Situated in Inginiyagala district
west of Ampara, the Gal Oya National Park is 314 km from Colombo
with its area of 260 sq km. It is surrounded by the largest tank
in Sri Lanka, the Senanayake Samudra. The best time to see
wildlife here is between March and July when you can possibly see
almost 150 elephants at one time. This park is most renowned for
its extraordinary elephant population. The usual way to enjoy the
park's scenery is to take a boat trip around the lake, watching
animals and birds on the shore before drifting close to the herds
Uda Walawe National Park
Situated 170 km southeast of
Colombo, the Uda Walawe National Park covers area of approximately
30,821 hectares in the dry zone. This park lies within the
Ratnapura and Monaragala districts and sitting in the middle of
the park is the Uda Walawe Reservoir. This Park comprises
grasslands and thorn scrubs and many valuable species of trees
especially teak. It is largely inhabited by elephants, spotted
deer, sambhur, water buffaloes, mongoose, bandicoots, foxes, water
monitor lizards, crocodiles, wild boars, Toque Monkeys, Grey
Langur, leopards and 30 varieties of snakes.
Bird life includes Sri Lanka
Jungle Fowl, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill,
Wooly-necked Stork, Black-headed Ibis, Black-shouldered Kite,
White-bellied Sea Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Changeable Hawk
Eagle, Shikrs, Sirkeer Malkoha, and Blue-faced Malkoha.
As similar to Yala it is possible
to take an all day safari through the park and there is a
wonderful rest area next to a river for a relaxing break. As well
as Yala, this park closes quite late (approximately 6:30pm) thus
improving your chances of spotting nocturnal predators.
Wasgamuwa National Park
Situated approximately 200 km
away from Colombo, the Wasgamuwa National Park lies within the
Polonnaruwa and Matale Districts and have the Mahaweli River and
Amban River as its eastern and western boundaries. Tropical
intermediate dry mixed evergreen forest dominates its environment.
The vegetation consists of primary forests, secondary forests,
scrublands and grasslands. The inhabitants here are elephants,
wild buffaloes, spotted deer, leopards, sloth bears, water
monitors and crocodiles. Other livings are 143 species of bird
including the Red Faced Malkoha, Ceylon Jungle Fowl, Lesser
Adjutant, Yellow Fronted Barbet, Ceylon Spur Fowl and Ceylon
Frogmouth. Plus there are 8 species of amphibians reported of
living in this park which include the endangered skink, lizards
like the Red Lipped Lizard and Earless Lizard. In addition, 17
species of fish and 50 species of butterflies are found here.
Adam's Peak or Samanalakade, the
butterfly mountain where butterflies go to die, is another
beautiful and fascinating place in Sri Lanka. The name 'Adam's
Peak' came from the fact that on the top of its 2,224 m peak there
is a footprint called 'Sri Pada' that is still indistinguishable
of that of whom. Some believe that it was that of Adam who was
made the mark just after he was cast out of the heaven and some
other believe that it was that of the Lord of Buddha. Whichever
legend to believe, the fact remains that this place has been a
pilgrimage center for over 1,000 years. Not only the sacred
footprint is the big attraction, the first rays of drawn light are
eulogized as a very fine view, the hill country rises to the east
while the west the land slopes to the sea. On any one clear day,
Colombo which is 65 km away can be visible from the peak of this
Horton Plains National Park
The Horton Plains National Park
is the only national park situated in the hill country and falls
within the Nuwara Eliya district and is 200 km away from Colombo.
It consists of grasslands interspersed with areas of forest and
some unusual vegetation that grows only in high altitudes. From
here rise Sri Lanka's second and third highest mountains. The
plains afford some excellent, silent walks.
The most amazing feature is the
'Horton Plains is the World's End' where the southern part of the
plains comes to a sudden end and drops almost straight down for
700 m. Dawn is the ideal time to view this site. The mountains are
free of mist and the sun is just rising.
The dense forests are home to
deer, jackal, the shaggy bear-monkey, sambhur - a member of the
cat family - and the occasional leopard among these there are some
endemic avifauna also found within this park.
The plains are also popular with
bird watchers. Birds include Ceylon Jungle Fowl, Ceylon Wood
Pigeon, Orange-billed Babbler, Ceylon Blue Magpie, Ceylon Hill
Munia, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Pied Bush-Chat, Grey Tit and Ceylon
Bundala National Park
Bundala National Park is the
latest addition to national parks and is situated 260 km away from
Colombo with 62 sq km in extent. Comprising of scrub jungle and
bordering the sea, the park stretches along the coast east of
Hambantota. The beach is an important nesting site for turtles.
Between October and January, four of Sri Lanka's five species of
marine turtles come to lay their eggs. Wildlife living in the park
includes elephants, spotted deer, grey langur, jackal, water
monitor, crocodiles, the olive ridley and leatherback turtles, the
hawksbill and green turtles.
Among all the 150 species of
water birds resident here are the Flamingo, Brown-capped Babbler,
Ceylon Jungle Fowl, Cattle Egret, Median Egret, Large Egret,
Openbill, Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilt, Yellow-wattled
Lapwing, etc. Migrant birds include Asiatic Golden Plover, Grey
Plover, Lesser Sand, Large Sand Plover, Kentish Plover, Marsh
Sandpiper, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, etc.