A flapping sea of black
invades the emerald Minneriya Tank, as a flock of two
thousand cormorants nosedive for fish. Later, elephants
trudge by, drinking from the same reservoir.
You want to be present to witness it, and you can, a jeep
safari from Deer Park Hotel takes you there in a jiffy.
Not nearly the largest tank in Sri Lanka, Minneriya Tank -
with the woods that surround it forming the
Minneriya-Giritale National Park - is nevertheless home to
an extraordinary diversity of wildlife. If numbers interest
you, there are nine species of amphibians, 24 species of
mammals, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish (three
of which are endangered), 75 species of butterflies and 160
species of birds.
Making your way through the park, you will see elephants,
Spotted Deer and also the Sambar, which is a deer with no
spots and an apt scientific name, cerves unicolor. If you're
lucky (or for some, unlucky), a leopard looking for food
might cross your path. Other creatures you may not care to
meet include the Sloth Bear, Indian Python and the Mugger
Crocodile, also known as Tank Crocodile.
Less menacing but equally intriguing are the frogs and
lizards with their tongues at the ready. Among the reptiles,
the Red-lipped Lizard and skink are both endemic to Sri
Lanka as well as endangered. The frogs, on the other hand,
are more abundantly present and have a tendency to jump over
your feet or across your eyes between leaves. A notable
example with a formidable but misleading title is the Sri
Lanka Greater Hourglass Tree Frog.
It all sounds like there’s such a lot to see at the park.
But overhead is where the action really is. Sri Lanka, home
to over 400 species of birds, has long been a birdwatcher’s
paradise. In Minneriya National Park alone, 160 species
crowd the trees or strut the banks.
You can afford to miss the Painted Storks, Great White
Pelican, Gray Herons, and even the Ruddy Turnstones
(whatever those are). But do try to spot the Sri Lanka
Jungle Fowl, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Sri Lanka
Brown-capped Babbler and Sri Lanka Gray Hornbill, because,
as you can guess from their names, nowhere else are you
going to find them but here, in Sri Lanka.
Even if you’re not a bird enthusiast, at least you can boast
about your trip later by throwing around some exotic
Opened in 2002 just before the massive Wilpattu
reopened, KAUDULLA NATIONAL PARK is Sri Lanka's newest
national park, wildlife reserve and eco tourism attraction.
Situated around the ancient Kaudulla tank, the national park
provides a 6656 hectare elephant corridor, only 6 km from
off the main Habarana - Trincomalee road.
With fantastic opportunities to see many elephants at close
range, the park has become a popular destination for
wildlife safaris that also take in leopards, sambar deer and
the occasional sloth bear! As an additional novelty, you can
go for cataraman rides on the tank.
Kaudulla National Park is Sri Lanka 's newest national park
(opened in 2002) and is located off the main Habarana -
Trincomalee road in the ancient cities' area (Cultural
Triangle). The park has established a 6656-hectare elephant
corridor between Somawathie Chaitiya and Minneriya National
Parks . The best time to visit the park is between August
The park is centred on ancient Kaudulla Tank (reservoir) and
is home to up to 250 Elephants (including herds of juvenile
males), Leopard, Fishing cat, Sloth bear, Sambar deer, and
the endangered Rusty spotted cat.
Not too far from Deer Park Hotel, the Kaudulla National Park
allows you to get close to the animals. Watch cats fish, and
see if you can spot the endangered Rusty Spotted Cat.
Migrating elephants pass through the park between August and
The biggest national park,
whose Block 1 – one of the five areas open to public – has
one of the world’s densest leopard populations. There are
only 35 leopards residing here, but it’s probably the best
place in the world to catch one, in the wild, on film. To
see the entire park could take you at least three days,
though there is a one-day jeep-trip available. The types of
life you’ll encounter here are too numerous to list: better
to see them for yourself.
Yala National Park is
situated in the southeast region of the island in the dry
zone boarding the Indian Ocean. Park area is belonging to
two provinces namely South and Uva Provinces. The total area
of the park (which is of 5 blocks) is 97,881 ha but only
Block I and Block II are open for visitors.
Vegetation is mainly consists of Secondary lowland dry
monsoon forest & semi arid thorny scrublands. Small patches
of riverine forest The main dancing styles of Sri Lanka are
Kandyan Dancing, Sbaragamuwa dancing, Pahatharata dancing &
Wanni Dancing All the big game mammals of the country are
found within the park. Elephant, Leopard, sloth bear,
Spotted Dear, Wild Boar and sambhur. Apart from them small
mammals such as Black naped hare, Grey, Ruddy & Striped
necked mongoose, Grey Langur & porcupine are common small
Park is also famous for its abundant bird life. Over140
species have recorded so far within the park. Changeable
Hawk Eagle, Crested serpent Eagle, Malabar pied Hornbill,
Jungle fowl, painted Stork, White Ibis and Black necked
Stork are commonly seen
Likened to an
African game reserve, the Uda Walawe National Park is
probably one of the most impressive nature parks in the
country. About 106 miles southeast of Colombo, the park
houses an estimated 500 elephants, of which you can see up
to 100 at a time. The Uda Walawe Reservoir in the middle of
the park serves the animals. Catch the Spotted Deer, Sambar,
Water Buffalo, Mongoose, Bandicoot, Toque Monkey and Grey
Langur in addition to foxes, crocodiles, wild boars,
leopards and 30 varieties of snakes. If you dare - that is.
Bundala National Park is
situated in the southeast part of the country in the semi
arid zone. Park belongs to Southern Province. The park area
is 6,216 hectares.The park was initially established as a
Sanctuary in 1969. Due to its significant role as a
wintering site for migratory birds this was declared as
RAMSAR wetland in 1990.
Bundala National Park is mainly consist of 4 brackish
lagoons, salt pans, marshes, thorny scrub lands, sand dunes,
dry mixed ever green forests and dry grass lands. Park
provides the shelter for Elephant, Spotted Dear, Wild Boar,
Black naped hare, Grey & Ruddy mongoose, toque macaque, Grey
Langur & porcupine, jackal and fishing & Rusty Spotted cats.
This park is also well known for sightings of estuarine
crocodile and mugger crocodile.
The main attraction of the Bundala is the birdlife,
especially waders. There are both resident and migratory
species. Greater Flamingo, Spot-billed Pelican, Lesser
Adjutant and Black-necked Stork are among the large birds.
Large flocks of terns, gulls, sand-pipers, snipes, teals,
cormorants, egrets and many more water birds are commonly
SINHARAJA RAIN FOREST
Located in south-west Sri Lanka, Sinharaja is the country's last
viable area of primary tropical rainforest. More than 60% of the
trees are endemic and many of them are considered rare. There is
much endemic wildlife, especially birds, but the reserve is also
home to over 50% of Sri Lanka's endemic species of mammals and
butterflies, as well as many kinds of insects, reptiles and rare
Sri Lanka's tropical rain forest, the Sinharaja is a UNESCO World
Natural Heritage Site. One of the few virgin forests left in the
world. Visitors are required to obtain permits from the Wildlife
Department in order to visit this sanctuary. Streams, springs,
rivers, waterfalls, leopard, monkeys, butterflies and moths, rare
trees, valuable shrubs and medicinal herbs are all found within its
green canopy. A trek along prescribed paths would provide nature
lovers with a never to be forgotten experience of sights and sounds.
The only national park within the hill
country, Horton Plains National Park – in which Sri Lanka’s
second-tallest mountain stands - boasts some unusual
highland vegetation. See if you can spot the Shaggy
Bear-monkey, Sambhur, as you take a leisurely stroll to
World's End. Bird watchers will be delighted to find the
Orange-billed Babbler, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Sri Lanka Hill
Munia, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Pied Bush-Chat, Sri Lanka
Whistling Thrush and Grey Tit.
Wilpattu is one of the
oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka Located in Northwest
coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka. The park lies within
the North-central & North-western providences. The area of
the park is 131693 ha. The unique feature of this park is
the existence of “Willus” (Natural lakes)
The park consists of willus, dry-lowland forests,
scrublands, open grasslands and coastal belt. Characteristic
feature of the park is that majority of park area is covered
with dense forest.
Elephants, leopards, sloth bear, water buffalo and spotted
deer are among the large mammals. Coastal belt and willus
support abundant birdlife such as painted storks, white
ibis, open bills, Whistling teals, spoonbills, cormorants
and kingfishers. Apart from them serpent eagles, great
racket tail Drongo, Malabar pied hornbills, crested hawk
eagles & Sri Lanka junglefowls are commonly seen. Both water
monitors and mugger crocodiles can be seen in the willus.
Long before wildlife conservation became
fashionable, Sri Lanka already had areas of jungle marked
out for conservation. One such case is that of the Wasgamuwa
National Park, a portion of which was declared a Strict
Nature Reserve as early as 1938.
The park is about three hours from Deer Park Hotel by car,
and if you think that’s too long a ride, you will change
your mind when you actually set foot on it. Certainly there
are the ubiquitous elephants (about 150 of these) and
Spotted Deer, as well as the elusive leopard and Sloth Bear,
both of which appear to have installed one resident
representative in each national park. But it is the Sudu
Kanda that truly captivates.
Situated in the west, the Gal Oya National Park is surrounded by
Senanayake Samudra, the largest tank in the country. Take about and
stalk close to the drinking elephants, which you can see in numbers
of up to 150 at a time. Also great for bird watching.
KUMANA NATIONAL PARK is a well-known bird sanctuary where a
multitude of birds breed and roost. 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. It is at this mangrove swamp that many water birds
nest in May and June. Regular sightings include pelicans, painted
storks, spoonbills, white ibis, herons, egrets and little
cormorants. The very rare black-necked stork has also been spotted
at the swamp. Besides the prolific birdlife, Kumana is also home to
some of the mammals found in the larger YALA (West) park, such as
elephants and leopards. The vegetation in Kumana consists mainly of
mangrove trees, kumbuk trees and the karan fern, as well as the open
Ten miles inland off the East Coast town of Pottuvil in an area that
belonged to the ancient kingdom of Ruhuna are three a tanks, the
Mahawewa, Kitulana and Sengamuwa. The most famous of the trio
however is the Mahawewa, which is more famously known as Lahugala.
This is in fact the name of the little village about a mile from the
tanks. Lahugala a tanks is about 600 acres in extent, and had a
storage capacity of 2760-acre feet and a 3700-ft. long bund. The
history of Lahugala is lost in the mists of time, but it is almost
certain that it dates back to the hay day of that historic realm.
Brohier in his classic works statesa a | evidently served large and
populous regions in ancient times"Lahugala and "a | was filled by
channel that took off from an anicut thrown across the Heda Oya.
Traces of this ancient channel, which was about 6 miles in length,
are in evidence to this daya. The terrain around Lahugala is
typically "dry zone", with secondary brush and forest. Between main
road and Heda Oya however it is deeply forested, with giant trees,
magnificent buttress roots and closely entwined undergrowth. The
special vegetative feature in the Lahugala area is the beru (Oplismenus
compostus). This tall succulent grass completely covers the three
tanks and is a favorite among the elephants. While growing freely in
this area, it is hardly encountered in large expanses in other parts
of the island.