Nature & Wildlife of Sri Lanka

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.


Udawalawa National Park:

Udawalawa National Park is located approximately 200 km south-east of Colombo city and is one of the major eco tourism destinations spreading over 30,821 hectares of dry zone. The game park has an annual rainfall of 1524 mm and an average temperature of 29.4°C.


The park was established on 30 July 1972. and it is most famous for the many elephants that live there (about 400 in total). During a visit, it is not unusual to see whole herds of adults and young elephants– feeding or bathing and playing in the water. In addition to this main attraction, the park is home to many water buffaloes, water monitor lizards, sambar deer, monkeys and the occasional leopard, as well as being an exciting location for bird enthusiasts.




Galoya National Park:

The GaloyaNational Park lies in the southeast of Sri Lanka, to the west of Ampara and was established in 1954. Since the national park is rich in flora and fauna it is considered a major eco tourism venue.


32 species of terrestrial mammals have been recorded in the park including the Sri Lankan Elephant, Sri Lankan Axis Deer, Muntjac, Water Buffalo, Sri Lankan Sambar Deer, Sri Lanka Leopard, Toque Monkey and Wild Boar.

The "Kurulu Dupatha" or the “
BirdIsland” is full of birds. A great many varieties of birds in their entire splendor swarm these islands. You can step on to this BirdIsland and walk through the forest up to the outcrop. From here, you can see many birds nests: some with eggs and some even with fledglings who are unable to fly away even when they spot you.



Horton Plains National Park:

Horton Plains National Park is one of the world’s best nature reserves and ecotourism venues and was designated a national park in 1988. It is covered by montage grassland and cloud forest. This plateau, at an altitude of 2,100–2,300 metres (6,900–7,500 ft) is rich in biodiversity and many of the species found here are endemic to the region. In general the forest may be seen on the hilltops or upper slope of the Plains, grassland may be seen in the valleys and lower slopes that eventually gives way to wetland habits. 

The park is home to a wide variety of flora and 24 species of mammals and birds.  The sheer precipice of World s End and Baker s Falls are among the tourist attractions of the park.


Bundala National Park:

Bundala National Park is located close to Hambantota city in the Southern Province covering an area of 3339.38 hectares and was declared a wildlife sanctuary on 05th December 1969 and was upgraded to national park on 04th January 1993.

Bundala is an internationally important wintering ground for migratory water birds in the country. The thorny jungle is also home to spotted deer, rare pangoline and the playful grey langur monkey and also sea turtles have come ashore to lay eggs during the night. The park is home to 32 species of fish, 15 species of amphibians, 48 race of reptiles, 197 species of bird, 32 species of mammals.


Bundala was first sited to be designated a Ramsar Wetland in the country and was declared a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in January 2006.





Yala National Park:

Yala National Park is one of the premier eco tourism destinations located 24kms northeast of Tissamaharama and 290kms from Colombo on the southeast coast covering a massive area of 97878 hectares over the Southern and Uva Provinces of the country.


Yala plays a very important role in conservation of a large   number of flora and fauna in the country.  Visitors exploring the park are exposed to an array of animals including birds & reptiles. At the same time Yala is famed to be one of the parks which has the highest density of Leopards in a single geographical area, however it is said that you have to be lucky to spot this beautiful beast in Yala as they lead an out-of-the-way lifestyle.


Kumana National Park:

Kumana National Park is located in the southeast corner of Sri Lanka, 391km from Colombo, covering an area of 18,149 hectares.   


Kumana is a well-known eco tourism attraction and bird sanctuary where a multitude of birds breed and roost. 200 species of the birds have been recorded in the national park. One of the most significant features of the park is the Kumana Villu - a 200 hectare natural swamp lake, fed by the Kumbukkan Oya through a half mile long narrow channel.


During April–July months tens of thousands of birds migrate to the Kumana swamp area annually. Regular sightings include such species of bird as pelicans, painted storks, spoonbills, white ibis, herons, egrets and little cormorants. Besides the prolific birdlife, Kumana is also home to some of the mammals found in the larger Yala National Park, such as elephants and leopards



Wasgamuwa National Park:

Wasgamuwa National Park is the only national park in the Central Province and was declared as such on 07th August 1984. This park is located in the districts of Matale and Polonnaruwa and bordered by the Mahaweli and Amban rivers, spreading to an area of 36948 hectares.


The park is home to a large number of flora and fauna such as 23 species of mammals, 143 species of birds, 8 species of amphibians, 17 species of fresh water fishes and reptiles and 50 butterflies. In fact the park is inhabited by a herd of 150 Sri Lankan Elephants. This park is truly a paradise for the nature lover.




Minneriya National Park:

Located in North central Province between Habarana and Polonnaruwa, the area was designated as a national park on 12 August 1997, having been originally declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. The reason for declaring the area as protected is to protect the catchment of Minneriya tank and the wildlife of the surrounding area.

The tank is of historical importance, having been built by King Mahasen in third century AD. The park is a dry season feeding ground for the elephant population dwelling in forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa, and Trincomalee districts.




Kaudulla National Park:

Kaudulla National Park is the newest opened park located on Habarana – Trincomalee main road. This was opened just before the massive Wilpattu reopened in 2002 and spans 6600 hectares, the Elephant corridor between the Somawathie sacred area & Minneriya.

The park is centered on ancient Kaudulla tank (reservoir), and is a home for approximately 250 Elephants with fantastic opportunities to see many elephants at close range and including herds of juvenile males, Leopards, Fishing cat, Sloth Bear, Sambar Deer, and the endangered Rusty spotted cat. The best times to visit the park are during August to December.



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