Safari & national parks

Minneriya National Park

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Minneriya National Park is a national park in North Central Province of Sri Lanka. 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 national park’s faunal species include 24 species of mammals, 160 species of birds, 9 species of amphibians, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish, and 75 species of butterflies.

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Kaudulla National Park

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Kaudulla National Park is a national park on the island of Sri Lanka located 197 kilometres (122 mi) away from the largest city, Colombo. It was designated a national park on April 1, 2002 becoming the 15th such area on the island. The faunal species recorded in the park include 24 species of mammals, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish, and 160 species of bird. In the drought period Sri Lankan Elephants move to the Minneriya tank to drink and feed. Sri Lankan Sambar Deer, Sri Lankan Axis Deer, Chevrotain, Wild boar, Sri Lankan Leopard, and Sloth Bear are other mammals found in the park. Kaudulla National Park is also one of the sites in which the Gray Slender Loris is reportedly found in Sri Lanka.

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Udawalawa National Park

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Udawalawe National Park lies on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces, in Sri Lanka. The national park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe River, as well as to protect the catchment of the reservoir. Udawalawe is an important habitat for Sri Lankan elephants, which are relatively easy to see in its open habitats. Many elephants are attracted to the park because of the Udawalawe reservoir, with a herd of about 250 believed to be permanently resident.

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Yala National Park

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Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. The park consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public, and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names such as, Ruhuna National Park (block 1) and Kumana National Park or ‘Yala East’ for the adjoining area. It is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. The park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi) and is located about 300 kilometres (190 mi) from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants, Sri Lankan leopards and aquatic birds.

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Wasgamuwa National Park

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Wasgamuwa National Park is a natural park in Sri Lanka situated in the Matale and Polonnaruwa Districts. The name of the Wasgamuwa has derived through the words “Walas Gamuwa”. “Walasa” is Sinhala for Sloth bear and “Gamuwa” means a wood. The park is situated 225 km away from Colombo. Wasgamuwa National Park exhibits one of the highest biodiversity among the protected areas in Sri Lanka. More than 150 floral species have recorded from the park.

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Wilpattu National Park

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The unique feature of this park is the existence of “Willus” (Natural lakes) – Natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. Located in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka. 31 species of mammals have been identified.