One of the many reasons as to why people visit Sri Lanka is because of its very diverse wildlife. From flora to fauna, a lot of species are only endemic to Sri Lanka. A lot of people, even the locals come to nature reserves and forests to get a glimpse of rare creatures for maybe once in their whole lifetime. Alot of nature reserves and santuaries are in Sri Lanka in order to protect the wildlife from human interests that might harm the animals including poaching. Visitors are allowed in to these reserves where you can take safari trips with a trained guide provided by the reserves themselves.
Yala National Park
Yala National Park is situated in the south-east region of Sri Lanka and is the 2nd largest National Park in the island, situated some 300 km away from Colombo. It was at first established in the early 1890s as a game sanctuary . The park is located in the dry-zone region where the drought season is very long .The day time average temperature is over 30 degrees which is not uncommon in the region. The parkland makes up most of the reserve but also includes lakes, beaches, jungle, rivers and scrubland. This variety in habitats provides an excellent range in wildlife. The largest concentration of Leopards can be seen in this region though the chances of seeing this animal are very low, and the creature is said to be one of the most endangered species. About 32 species of mammals, 125 species of birds and many reptiles and lagoon fauna species have been recorded in the park. The Yala National Park is famous among visitors as the best place to view large mammals within one territory.
Wasgamuwa National Park
Wasgamuwa National Park is one of the many national parks in Sri Lanka. It earned its name as a national park during the Mahaweli Development Project in 1984 in which it provide refuge to countless displaced wild animals. Originally it was supposedly considered as a nature reserve in 1938, and then in the early 1970’s the park was regarded as a strict nature reserve. This is one of the places in Sri Lanka where elephants can be seen in very large numbers. It also rises up to prominence for bird-watchers too , and is also considered as one of the Important Bird Areas in Sri Lanka. The name of Wasgamuwa is a derivative of two words Walas Gamuwa where Walasa is the Sinhala word for the Sloth Bear ( who are also present but in very small numbers ) and Gamuwa which means wood. The park is simply just about 225 km away from the commercial capital of Sri Lanka.
Wilpattu National Park
Located along the north-west coast 26km from Puttalam, famous for its unique lakes called Villus. The park covers 425 sq ft of the coastal area.This is generally a dry zone but still is able to accomadate an impressive number of wildlife. It is also one of the largest and oldest national parks of the country. Since the park is located in a dry zone the average temperature is about 27 degrees. Despite its climate and location the park is covered with very dense shrubbery, a large expanse of grasslands, and an abundant amount of water for a park located in a dry area. The major attractions in the park are the endemic sloth bears, leopards, barking deers and elephants. This is yet another bird-watching paradise where endemic birds are most common such as the jungle fowl ( the ntaional bird of Sri Lanka ). Mammals are not the only attractions here, reptiles, amphibians and insects such as butterflies , the Great Egg Fly and Common Rose just to name a few, also claim popularity among the visitors. Crocodiles and a wide range of snakes also makes Wilpattu National Park their home.
Udawalawe National Park
Established during 1972, with a dry land of area 119 square miles. It generally has a very humid but warm climate, very famourable for most species that live there. It is home to even plants such as Satin trees, ebony , etc. However the main attraction is the elephants of which this reserve is very famous for. The endangered Sambar deer and leopards along with a lot of mammals can be seen while on Safari. Birdwatching is done here to see the Sri lankan spurfowl an endemic species along with a lot of other birds.
Bundala National Park
Famous for its aquatic bird life, Bundala is located at South-east os the country. A handful of elephants reside here along with reptiles, birds and mammals. Bundala is very famous for its crocodiles , its is the only place where you can get a glimpse of both species (the mugger and the Estuarine) that live in Sri Lanka. Aquatic birds such as the black-necked stork , pelicans and other birds including birds who have migrated if you visit the park during the end of the year. The endangered sloth bears, leopards, sambar and barking deer sightings are an integral part of making your visit to the park memorable.
Gal Oya National Park
Situated in the eastern province. Established in 1954, thought of as one of the major reserves in Sri Lanka since it has a very rich biodiverity in its 25,900 hectare area. A famous site for bird-watching since about 150 birds can be observed within the santuary. Boat rides are taken to visit the Bird Island which have a very high concentration of birds. This National Park came about when protecting the largest lake in Sri Lanka, the Senanayaka Samudraya.
This reserve is on top of the highest plateau in Sri Lanka established during 1988 officially. You can see a breath-taking view below from the plateau itself, the World’s End is one of best places to get a great view. Visitations should be done early in the morning to get a head start since during the evenings the mist tends to set in.