Yala national park (1570 sq.km) was created in 1938 and is in the south-eastern region of Sri Lanka and extends over two provinces of Hambantota district of southern province and Monaragala district in Uva province. The gateway to Yala National Park is Tissamaharama. A 20 km drive via Kirinda takes the visitors to the Palatupana. At Palatupana, the well-designed visitor centre provides the information to the tourists and try to assign a tracker to all incoming vehicles. Climate of Ruhuna National Park is usually hot and dry. The mean annual temperature is 27 Celsius, although in the dry season the temperature could go as high as 37 Celsius.
The best period to visit the park is from December through to March. April, May and June are rainy and the park is close in September.
Wildlife at Yala National Park
Of all the National Parks in Sri Lanka, Yala National Park gives the best opportunity to witness Sri Lanka’s broad variety of wildlife: colorful painted stork in troops are seen perched at the shores of lagoon where the crocodiles to have chosen to doze off; lovely fan tailed peacocks in their resplendent blues and greens parade about amidst the woods where monkeys hang, leap and chatter; in the bush jungle are the Elephants; crossing the tracks and wandering off into the thorny scrub jungle is the star attraction of the park: the leopard.
A total of 32 species of mammals have been recorded. The threatened species include sloth bear (Melursus Ursinus), Leopard (Panthera Pardus kotiya), elephant (Elephas Maximus), water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), Wild boar (Sus scrofa), spotted deer (Axis Axis Ceylonessis), sambar (Cervus unicolor) and golden jackal (Canis aureus).
Leopards at Yala National Park
Sri Lankan leopards (Panthera Pardus Kotiya) are said to be a distinct sub-species from their Indian neighbors. Leopards can be seen throughout the park. The Best period for enjoying the sights of leopards is during January to July. 120 leopards.
Yala National Park’s Block 1, on the western side of the park, the only one of all five blocks open to the visitors, has recorded the highest density of leopards among the leopard populations scattered in the wildlife parks of Sri Lanka. These magnificent beasts have now much habituated to the encroachment of their domains by the humans in jeeps. Young males don’t betray any sign of disturbance; they seem confident roaming over the gravel roads tracks as well as the bush jungle during the day: the visitors enjoy to no ends, fine photographic opportunities to capture the magnificent beasts well focused at the close range.
Yala National Park is rich in birdlife and around 130 species have been recorded. Peacocks are ubiquitous throughout the park; Raptors include such as the hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle and white bellied sea eagle. Among the water birds attracted to the lagoons are Lesser Flamingo, Pelican, Spoonbill, Painted stork, rare Black necked Stork, Grey Heron, Purple heron, Night heron and Darter. Sandpipers, pelicans, egrets, herons, ibises, kingfishers and the magnificent Indian darter, along with birds of prey and colourful smaller species including green and blue bee eaters, hoopoes, parakeets and bulbuls. Kingfishers and the magnificent Indian darter, along with birds of prey and colourful smaller species including green and blue bee eaters, hoopoes, parakeets and bulbuls. During the north-east monsoon the lagoons are visited by thousands of migrating waterfowl, including Pintail, Garganey, Eurasian Curlew, Whimbrel and turn stone, which mix with the residents such as whistling duck, Yellow Wattle Lapwing, Red Wattle Lapwing and Great Stone Plover. The forest is home to Orange Breasted Green Pigeon, Hornbills, Flycatchers, including Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Barbets and Orioles.
While you should also spot at least a couple of jungle fowl, a singularly inelegant, waddling creature, like a feral hen, which has been adopted as the national bird of Sri Lanka.
Notable reptiles are Mugger Crocodile, which is abundant in the abandoned tanks, Estuarine Crocodile, found in the main rivers, and Common monitor. Other reptiles include Cobra and Russel’s Viper. A variety of Sea Turtle, Olive Ridley and Leatherback, of which Yala coast line is a major nesting ground.
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