Sri Lanka’s Wildlife Treasures
Sri Lanka’s wildlife is as varied as the island itself, ranging from elephants and leopards to egg-laying turtles and a huge variety of birds. With 12 per cent of the country designated for wildlife protection it is easy to get a taste of Sri Lankan wildlife. Safari parks and sanctuaries, particularly in the southern and central zones, offer the easiest way to see animals in their natural habitat. Sri Lanka is one of those few places in the world which has breathtaking array of landscapes and wild life packed together in an area.
One needs to stay alert for the sighting of the endangered leopard; One needs to have ample of time to watch the elephants feeding and washing in a tank or lagoon. Sri Lanka is full of adventure and enthusiasm for a nature lover and wildlife photographer.
Sri Lanka’s wildlife treasures can be viewed in many of its national parks. Among them, the most accessible and popular are Minneriya National Park, Uda Walawe National Park, Yala National Park, Sinharaja National Park etc. Sri Lanka is the world’s hot spot to see elephants and leopards along with other endemic species.
The pride of the country is the majestic elephant. There are seasons where one can view the Asia’s largest concentration of wild elephants together on the grasslands that sprouts on the receding shores of Minneriya Lake which is in the north central province of the country. This Elephant Gathering is a thrilling sight not to be missed. Visitors can see elephants closely at the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage on the road to Kandy where the department of wildlife has been caring for orphaned elephants for more than 30 years. One can also see wild herds of elephants in a tightly knit family group’s up to 4 generations in the national parks of Uda Walawe which has proximity from Colombo. Leopards, buffalo, deer and sloth bears give them company. Visitors may be lucky to spot mongooses, bandicoots, foxes, and water monitor lizards, crocodiles, toque macaques, sambar deer, grey langur and Shaggy Bear Monkey.
One of the most thrilling adventures is to hop onto a safari, and the best place to do it is the Yala National Park. It comprises of the greatest variety of Sri Lanka’s wildlife. It is the most visited and the best national park in Sri Lanka where one closely see big herds of leopards and sloth bears. It has the highest density of leopards in the world. The dry months from May to September are the best time for viewing Leopards and Sloth Bear. From October to April during the Northern Hemisphere winters, Yala becomes home to many species of migratory birds and is a hot spot for bird watching.
In comparison with countries of its size, Sri Lanka has a high density of species of birds. More than 450 bird species have been recorded including migrants and residents. Around three quarter of these species of birds are endemic, simply cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The mixed species feeding flocks in Sinharaja (the ‘Sinharaja Bird Waves’) are the largest in the world. Rare montane endemics include the Dusky – blue Flycatcher, yellow – eared Bulbul and Whistling Thrush. These birds can be seen easily as they are relatively tamed.
Sinharaja which has been declared as the world’s heritage site by UNESCO has the most important biodiversity in Sri Lanka. One can see half of Sri Lanka’s endemic mammals and butterflies at this point. Visitors are more likely to see purple faces leaf monkey and grizzled squirrel here.
Abundant, diverse and delightful, Sri Lanka’s natural bounty always enchants visitors, enthralls nature lovers and eco- tourists. A half-day tour in a private jeep with a guide in each of these places will enthrall your expedition to Sri Lanka as it is one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in the world.