Parks and wildlife

Udawalawe National Park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe reservoir on the Walawe River. Today it is an important habitat for Sri Lankan elephants, which are relatively easy to see in their open habitat. Many elephants are attracted to the park because of the reservoir, with a herd of about 250 believed to be permanently resident. Udawalawe is also a good bird watching site.


Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. It is situated in the southeast region of the country and covers 979 km² (378 sq mi). Yala is a wildlife sanctuary best known for its variety of wild animals. 215 bird species, 46 reptile species and 44 mammal species are resident in Yala and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world.

Sinharaja Rainforest is a biodiversity hotspot of international significance and has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is a treasure trove of endemic species, including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals but because of the dense vegetation, wildlife is not as easily seen as in dry-zone national parks.

Dolphin and Whale watching is also possible in Sri Lanka as its waters are very rich in cetacean species with twenty seven species being recorded to date. One hundred and five river systems contribute a steady nutrient flow to the ocean. This together with continual upwelling at the edge of the continental shelf creates ideal conditions to support a food chain all year round in the warm tropical waters. However, to see marine mammals, location and time is all important.