Yala National Park DUP (979 Kms)
Southern & Uva Provinces, Sri Lanka
Any, Wildlife Sanctuary, National Park
|Best Time to Visit
Any, June, July, August, September
Yala combines a strict nature reserve with a national park. Divided into 5 blocks, the park has a protected area of nearly 130,000 hectares of land consisting of light forests, scrubs, grasslands, tanks and lagoons. Two blocks are currently opened to the public.
Situated in Sri Lanka’s south-east hugging the panoramic Indian Ocean, Yala was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and was designated a national park in 1938. Ironically, the park was initially used as a hunting ground for the elite under British rule. Yala is home to 44 varieties of mammal and 215 bird species. Among its more famous residents are the world’s biggest concentration of leopards, majestic elephants, sloth bears, sambars, jackals, spotted dear,
It’s home to Panthera pardus kotiya, a majestic leopard endemic to Sri Lanka. But among the glorious spectacle of wildlife, you’d also witness the tell-tale signs of a lost civilization. The Monastic settlement of Sithulpawwa, an important pilgrim site, is said to have housed 12,000 inhabitants seeking solace, some 2000 years ago. The restored rock Temple, among a series of well-preserved ancient temples offers a glimpse into a glittering past. What is today a pristine wildlife kingdom, Yala was home to a thriving civilization, dating back to the glory days of Sri Lankan Kings. Hundreds of tanks, most in dilapidated state today, are testimony to an agri-based civilization. The large, thriving tanks now provide a lifeline to the animal kingdom, especially during dry season.
Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. There are two national parks in the vicinity of Yala. Among the largest is Lunugamvehera National Park and the other one is Kumana National Park. The park is situated in the dry semi-arid climatic region and rain is received mainly during the northeast monsoon.
Yala hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. It is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. Yala harbours 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. The number of mammals that has been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world.
The area around Yala has hosted several ancient civilizations. Two important pilgrim sites, Sithulpahuwa and Magul Vihara, are situated within the park. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami caused severe damage on the Yala National Park and 250 people died in its vicinity. The number of visitors has been on the rise since 2009, after the security situation in the park improved.