National Parks of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is the country with rich bio diversity. Being a tropical country Sri Lanka has this kind riched bio diversity. Different kinds of environment and weather conditions indicates this bio diversity. Sri Lanka has many national parks in island wide. From ancient days the elephants and peacock from the Sri Lankan jungles were prize exports to the Kingdoms of East and West.But apart from these well known examples of the fauna, a visit to the Sri Lankan jungles is to enter a whole new world where nature has largely stayed still.There are four majour national parks.Of these the best known is Ruhunu National Park,at Yala,in the deep South of the island.The other well known national park,at Wilpattu,is at present closed due to the prevailing conditions in the North of the island.There are also two other national parks at Inginiyagala and Udawalawe.
Yala National Park
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. Yala National Park has a variety of ecosystems including moist monsoon forests, dry monsoon forests, semi deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, fresh water and marine wetlands, and sandy beaches.
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 too have chosen to doze off; lovely fantailed 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).
Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu National Park is a park located on the island of Sri Lanka. 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. Wilpattu National Park, the largest wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka span an area of no less than 131,693 hectares with altitude ranging between the sea-level and 152 meters.
The best time to visit Wilpattu National Park is during the months of February and October. Wilpattu National Park has a good network of gravel roads, particularly between the water holes. Wilpattu National Park’s varying natural habitats; coastal belt, natural lakes (villus), rocky outcrops, scrublands, open grasslands and dense forest provide for numerous species of animals. Among the species are 31 mammals. The biggest draws in Wilpattu are Leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya) and Sloth bears (Melursus ursinus). Apart from those two mammals are Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus), Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, jackals, sambhur, barking deer, mouse deer Wild Pig, Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) and Mugger Crocodiles. Butterflies recorded include the Great Eggfly, Blue Mormon, Common Mormon, Common Rose Great Orange Tip, Glad-eye Bushbrown, Blue Mormon, Common Mormon, Common Rose and Crimson Rose. Countless species of birds can be found and the park plays host to numerous winter migrants from November to March, while menacing crocodiles top the list of reptiles.
Udawalawa National Park
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. Keeping company to the herds of elephants, the main attraction of the park are the Water Buffalo, Wildboar, Spotted Deer, Sambur Deer, Jackal, Samber, Black-naped hare, mongooses, bandicoots, foxes, s the endemic Toque Macaque and Gray Langers. Sighting a Leopard and other smaller cats like Fishing cat & Jungle cat would be a bonus.
Udawalawe is undoubtedly the best place in Sri Lanka to see wild Asian Elephants throughout the year: there are about 500 elephants in the park and they often roam in herds of up to 100. Udawalawe National Park is unique in terms of consistency in numbers of elephants roaming the park: it has no a seasonal variation in herds of elephants.
Minneriya National Park
Minneriya National Park is located 182 km away from Colombo in the North Central Plains of Sri Lanka. The major city closest to Minneriya National Park is Polonnaruwa. Minneriya National Park that covers an area of 8,889 hectares is of tropical monsoon climate: annual rainfall is about 1146mm and mean annual temperature is 27.5 centigrade. The altitude ranges from100m to 885m at the top of Nilgala peak.
It is the largest known meeting place of Asian Elephants in the world. During this period herds up to 300 elephants are seen at the 8,890 hectare park within a few square kilometers of the Minneriya Reservoir. In August and September each year during the dry season, wild elephants from the surrounding wilderness in search of food and water, makes their way to the shores of the Minneriya Reservoir adjoining the Minneriya National Park. Huge herd of elephants, sometimes numbering up to 300, converge together within a few square kilometers of the lake.
Horton Plains National Park
Horton Plains National Park in Ohiya is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. This plateau at an altitude of 2,100–2,300 metres is rich in biodiversity and many species found here are endemic to the region. This region was designated a national park in 1988. It is also a popular tourist destination and is situated 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Ohiya, 6 kilometres from the world famous Ohiya Gap/Dondra Watch and 32 kilometres from Nuwara Eliya.
Large mammals could seldom be seen at Horton Plains. Samber is common sight at dusk and in the early morning hours. Mammals which still occur in reasonable numbers include Kelaart’s long clawed shrew Feroculus feroculus slender loris loris tardigradus endemic to the montane toque macaque Macaca sinica , purple faced langur Presbutis entellus, rusty-spotted cat felis rubigimosus and etc. Horton Plains National park harbors 12 species of endemic birds the following birds are recorded only for Horton Plains. Sri Lanka blue magpie Cissa ornate , dusky blur flycatcher Eumyias sordisa , Sri Lanka white – eye Zosterops ceulonensis and Sri Lanka wood pigeon columba torringtonii . There are various species of harriers and buzzards. This park is a paradise for butterflies too. Among reptiles are Snake Aspidurabrachyorrhos and the wide spread agamid Calotes nigrilabris . The only fish is the introduced rainbow trout Salmo gardneri . The distribution of the endemic fresh water shrimp Caridina singhalensis is believed to be confined to a 10k, stretch of river within the park.
Bundala National Park
Bundala National Park is an internationally important wintering ground for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. Bundala harbors 197 species of birds, the highlight being the greater flamingo, which migrate in large flocks. The general climate of Bundala National Park is hot and dry. While the average Temperature is 27 degrees Celsius, the annual rainfall varies between 900mm to 1300mm. Dry season’ falls between May and September.Best time to visit is September to March: during this period migratory birds arrive at the park.
Bundala is home to 32 species of mammals. Among them are civets, wild boars, Grey & Ruddy mongoose, porcupine, giant Indian palm squirrels, black-naped hares, Spotted Deer, Wild buffalo, the endemic, jackal and fishing & Rusty Spotted cats. While most commonly seen mammals are the hordes of grey langur and Toque Macaque and Nearly 200 species of birds have been recorded within the park, out of which 58 species are migratory birds.
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