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  • Yala National Park

Yala

Located in the south-east region of the island and bounded by the Indian Ocean, Yala is the Sri Lanka's most famous national park. Forming a total area of nearly 130,000 hectares of scrub, light forest, grassy plains and brackish lagoons, Yala is very rich in wildlife and home to 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species.

One of the first national parks in Sri Lanka, Yala was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and a national park in 1938. Today, it has a the highest leopard density in the world The park is also home to the large herds of elephants, the spotted deer, sambar, wild boar, wild buffaloes, sloth bear, jackal and mongoose. The birdlife is fantastic too, and numerous species such as rosy starlings, paradise flycatcher, crested hawk eagle, blue-tailed bee-eater and common lora inhabit this natural wilderness.

Yala boasts also a large number of ancient ruins, bearing testimony to earlier civilizations  that populated this area. Historical and religious sites in Kataragama, Sithulpahuwa and Magul Maha Vihara are also well worth a visit.

 

Climate in Yala National Park

Situated in the dry zone of Sri Lanka, the climate in Yala is hot and humid. The vegetation  consists of semi-arid thorny scrub, interspersed by pockets of fairly dense secondary forest and small patches of mangrove along the coastal lagoons.

The mean annual temperature is around 27 degrees Celsius, but during the dry season, from  May /June to October, temperatures may reach 37 Celsius. This time of year, the water levels are low and animals have to rely on specific waterholes that provide an ideal surrounding for observing  the wildlife whilst you are on a safari.

In Yala, the rain often comes in short and intense bursts before clearing up again, and many animals such as leopards, elephants, buffalos, spotted deers, wild boars, eagles, and owls can be spotted at any time of the year. The rainiest season is from November to January, when the north-east monsoon brings relief to the fauna and flora and the jungles take on lush colors.

For bird enthusiasts, the migratory season between October and April is the best. This time of year, thousands of birds migrate from all the way from their northern breeding areas in  Siberia to Yala, that one of the southernmost points of their migration.

 

Wildlife in Yala National Park

Yala is very rich in wildlife and home to a great variety of species, some of which are endemic to Sri Lanka. The endangered Sri Lankan Elephant, recognized subspecies of the Asian Elephant, can be seen in large herds by the waterholes in Yala. The 44 species of mammals include Sri Lankan sloth bear, spotted deer, water buffalo, crocodiles and the leopard – the star of Yala.
According to recent studies, Yala has the highest concentration (as high as 01 km2) of the elusive Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya). Unlike to elusive, and primarily nocturnal, leopards living in other parts of the world, in the Sri Lankan national parks they are rather easy to spot due to the lack of natural predators.

Your best chance to see a leopard is generally early in the morning. Especially, the young males are very confident, and often they are seen walking on the tracks.

The birdlife in the Yala National Park is amazing too. Over 215 species of birds have been recorded in Yala, with six being endemic to Sri Lanka. Both, the critically endangered black-necked stork and the lesser adjutant, the biggest bird in the island, can be spotted here. When in Yala, the bird enthusiasts may visit several other fascinating birding locations, including the ancient hermitage of Sithulpahuwa, Debarawewa Wetland and Palatupana saltpans.

 

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Hotline : (+94) 70 222 8 222
Office Address : 20/63, Fairfield Garden, Colombo 08, Sri Lanka

 

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