Wildlife of Sri Lanka is plentiful and varied. Natural isolation from other
countries pronounces that the island has high endemicity among its fauna.
Sri Lanka is most famous for its elephants. One can hire a jeep for elephant
and leopard safaris in its national parks. You can enjoy turtles for hours.
If you are interested in birdwatching the country would be absolutely
delight. Time passed in the forests of Sri Lanka can be uplifting for any
person who is least interested in wildlife. Nature has stayed still in the
jungles of Sri Lanka for hundreds of years.
Authorities in Sri Lanka have designated 12 per cent of the country for
wildlife conservation. This testifies that Sri Lanka is fully commited to
its natural heritage.
Various types of terrains are punctuated by rocky outcrops. Some are open
parkland while few of thick forests. As a result variety of creatures are
also found here. Areas near to seashore are added bonus of ocean frontage.
Lagoons, water holes, lakes and streams take care of the water needs of the
National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries
Safari parks and wildlife sanctuaries are located mostly in the
southern and central parts of the country. These are fine places to witness
the beasts in their natural habitat. You can see herds of elephants feeding
or washing in pools or lagoons. You can quietly watch turtles laying their
eggs. Sightings of leopards are also frequent here.Smaller creatures can be
tough to find in the forests of Sri Lanka. Peacocks can be seen dancing when
There are four prominent national parks in Sri Lanka. These are Ruhunu
Park, Wilpattu Park, Inginiyagala Park and Uda Walawe Park. Apart from these
there are several minor parks too.
Ruhunu National Park
Ruhunu National Park at Yala is best known for its elephants who wander in
big and small herds in the undisturbed forest. Various species of deer like
spotted deer, sambhar and barking deer are found in the park. You could see
leopards resting in the sun or drinking at a water hole. Wild Boar and Wild
Buffalo add more thrill to the park. Several types of monkeys are also found
here such as the pinkish Rhesus and Langur. See crocodiles resting silently
near the waterholes. Sight of the pythons crossing the track would thrill
Ruhunu has enough attractions to fascinate those who are interested in
avians. Peacock is the most well known bird here. Other more known birds
which can be seen here are several types of herons, poonbill, painted stork,
colorful parrots, parakeets, bee-eater, kingfisher, woodpecker and hornbill.
Wilpattu National Park
Leopard and sloth bear are main attraction in Wilpattu National park in
place of elephants. You can find number of delightful tiny lakes here called
villus. Thick forest means that tracking of animals here becomes more
exciting. The park is located 176 km north of Colombo.
Gal Oya National Park
Established in 1954, Gal Oya National Park is located in the south-east
part of Sri Lanka. Vegetaion in the park comprises both evergreen forest and
grasslands. Approximate 30 species of animals are found here including
leopard, sloth bear, elephant, wild boar, water buffalo, various species of
deer, common langur and endemic toque macaque. About 150 species of birds
are also found in this park.
Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park is mainly comprised of grasslands and thorn scrubs
punctuated by trees. Located 170 km off Colombo the park is known for
providing home to elephants, various species of deer, monkeys, jackal, water
buffalo and wild boar. Lot of avifauna can also be witnessed in the park.
Madhu Oya National Park
Located 300 km off Colombo, Madhu Oya National Park is the home of
creatures like Sambhur, Purple Monkey, reptiles and birds. Ancient ruins can
also be found within the boundaries of the park. Best way to tour the park
is on a four-wheeled vehicle. You can reach the national park from Colombo
via trains and buses. However it would be best if you hire a tourist cab.
Horton Plains National Park
Designated as a National Park in 1988, Horton Plains National Park is
comprised of cloud forests embedded in wet grasslands. Most vegetation and
animals in the park are endemic. The park is one of the best elephant
habitats in the country. Avian diversity in the park is very high. More than
70% of Sri Lanka's endemic birds reside here. Horton Plains can be easily
reached from Nuwaraeliya or Talawakale.
Bundala National Park
Known for its plentiful aquatic bird life, Bundala National park is a fine
addtion to the list of the country's national parks. Large variety of
aquatic birds feed on the harvest of numerous lagoons in the park. This
wetland sanctuary offers shelter to migratory shore-birds including the
Greater Flamingo. About 150 bird species are foun here. Small population of
elephants also resides here.Creatures like leopards, spotted deer, sambar,
barking deer, sloth bear, giant squirrrell, jackal, civet cat, Indian
pangolin. Reptiles like crocodiles and monitor lizards can also be found.
Prominent bird sanctuaries in Sri Lanka are Kumana, Wirawila, Bundala and
Kalametiya. All these are located within 200 to 300 kms from Colomo. Their
location on Sri Lanka's extreme south eastern coast and abundance of lagoons
and swamps pronounces that these have become the preferred residence of
waterbirds. Large flocks of both resident and migrant aquatic birds can be
found here. Udawattakele and Peak Wilderness are highland sanctuaries,
quieter but equally picturesque.
National Zoological Gardens
National Zoological Gardens at Dehiwala is famous all across the world for
its fine collection of animals, birds, reptiles and fish. Aquarium here is
the only one of its kind in Asia and offers over 500 varieties of aquatic
life. The Zoological Gardens also hosts Aviary, Reptilium, Butterfly Park
within its compound.
Sri Lanka has developed three beautiful Botanic Gardens in Peradeniya,
Hakgala and Henarathgoda.
An orphanage for elephants has been set up by the department of National
Zoological Gardens, at Pinnawela, 90 km. from Colombo. It was established in
1975 and several animals brought here at the inception are now mature enough
for breeding, which is the ultimate aim of the institution. Entrance fees :
Rs.75 per adult and Rs.40 per child.
Accommodation in Parks
Department of Wild Life Conservation maintains special bungalows in the
national parks of Sri Lanka. Caretakers in these bungalows make food for the
visitors. You are advised to travel inside the parks only by four-wheelers.
You are allowed to enter parks only after you get special permits.
Tips When Visiting National Parks
- You are not allowed to come down from your vehicle within the
boundaries of the park, except at specially marked locations.
- You should get reservations in the park bungalows in advance.
- You can camp at special camping sites, and for that too you are
required to take prior permission.
- It is mandatory to be accompanied by a tracker provided by the park
- Listening loud music is prohibited.
- Don't leave any litter in the park.