Wildlife in Sri Lanka: A Guide To Exploring Sri Lanka's National Parks

The wildlife in Sri Lanka is vast and includes various plant and animal species. Sri Lanka has many protected areas that aid in the conservation of these species, many of which are scarce and endangered. Sri Lanka has a tropical climate, with a lot of rainfall throughout the year. Hence, the wildlife found here are mostly species that are used to tropical climates. 

Mammals

Mammals
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There are about 123 species of mammals thriving in Sri Lanka, some of them being rare and endangered. Some of the mammals found here are Elephants, different species of monkeys, Slender Loris, Civets, Bats, etc. 

Reptiles

Reptiles
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There are about 180 species of reptiles in Sri Lanka which includes snakes, crocodiles, turtles, etc. 

Amphibians

Amphibians
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Sri Lanka has an abundance of amphibians, with a whopping 122 different species of them thriving in the country. Some of them are toads, frogs, caecilians, etc. 

The various national parks in Sri Lanka serve as the best place to witness these beautiful creatures, in their wild habitats. Some of the famous National Parks in Sri Lanka are:-

Udawalawe National Park

Udawalawe National Park
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When the Udawalawe Reservoir was built over the Walawe River, the wild animals over there were shifted to the Udawalawe National Park. This national park lies in between the provinces - Sabaragamuwa and Uva. The reserve covers about 120 square feet of the land and provides a natural habitat to many wild animals. It consists of grasslands, scrublands, and forests, and is the best place to see the majestic Asiatic Elephants in the wild. Apart from the elephants, it is also home to the rare Sri Lankan Sloth Bear. 

The national park is also an excellent bird watching site, with birds like the Sri Lanka Junglefowl, the Sri Lankan spurfowl, the White-bellied sea eagle, and so on. 

Wasgamuwa National Park

Wasgamuwa National Park
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The Wasgamuwa National Park is in the Matale District of Sri Lanka. In 1984, when the Mahaweli Development Project displaced wild animals, this national park was built as a refuge for them. This national park has a dry zone climate, which means that it receives less rainfall compared to the other wet parts of the country. It has both forests and scrublands. 

This national park is home to herds of Asian elephants, the purple-faced langur, and the toque macaque along with rare sightings of the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear, and leopards. It is also a popular bird-watching spot. 

Yala National Park

Yala National Park
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The Yala National Park is the second-largest National Park in Sri Lanka and is situated in the Southeast region of the country, bordering the Indian Ocean. It covers an area of 378 square miles. Since it is so huge, it is divided into five blocks, and also includes neighbouring parks - hence, it houses six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries within itself. This national park has a variety of ecosystems, including monsoon forests and marine wetlands. It is in a dry, semi-arid region of the country, so rain is rarely received. 

The Yala National Park is famous for its high density of leopards thriving in the scrublands. Apart from the leopards, the park is also famous for the Sri Lankan Sloth Bears, the Slender Loris, the Golden Palm Civet, and birds like the Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, the Crimson fronted Barbet, Eurasian Spoonbill, etc. 

Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks

Elephants at the Kaudulla National Park
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The Minneriya National Park and the Kaudulla National Park may be two different places, about half an hour away from each other, but both of them share herds of elephants, who travel from one park to the other in search of food and water. The Minneriya National Park has the Minneriya Tank, and the Kaudulla National Park has the Yoda Ela River flowing through the park. Both of these national parks experience an event during the dry season, called 'The Gathering', wherein these herds of elephants travel between Minneriya and Kaudulla. The tourists can even witness wild elephants on the road during this time. 

Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park
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The Wilpattu National Park is the oldest and the largest national park in Sri Lanka. This national park is famous for its naturally occurring lakes. There are a total of sixty lakes and tanks spread across the national park. It covers an area of 1317 square kilometres and is situated in the dry zone, on the northwest coast of the country. 

Wilpattu is also known for its high density of leopards, just like the Yala National Park, and sightings of the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear. Apart from these, birds like the Painted Stork, the Large White Egret, and many different species of owls and other predatory birds can also be found here. 

Importance of Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka

Wildlife conservation
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Have you ever noticed how peaceful you feel when you visit forests, botanical gardens, national parks, sanctuaries, etc. That is how being one with nature feels. When different living beings and different species coexist, without harming one another, true harmony is achieved. 

In today's world, where concrete jungles have taken over green covers, and with the dangerously rising pollution levels, climate change is getting to us like a big tsunami wave. We have already damaged many ecosystems and put a lot of species under the endangered list. 

Killing and destroying the homes of these beautiful creatures, for our profit, will soon bite us back. If not for our numerous sanctuaries, and various other conservation projects, many of the well-known animals would have gone extinct by now. 

Animals and human beings can thrive only by positively coexisting with one another. And therefore, conserving and protecting these species, for a better future, is extremely important. 



This post was published by Radha Iyer

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