Sri Lanka possesses a high degree of biodiversity. Indeed the island (together with the Western Ghats of India) has been identified by Conservation International as one of 34 world biodiversity hot spots. In addition, The Sinharaja Forest Reserve, the country’s last viable area of primary tropical rainforest has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What’s remarkable is the high proportion of endemic species.
Map showing Major Wildlife National Parks and Forests are shown here.
National Parks Managed by Department of Wildlife Conservation
1. Yala National Park
2. Bundala National Park
3. Kumana National Park
4. Udawalawa National Park
5. Horton Plains National Park
6. Wasgamuwa National Park
7. Minneriya National Park
8. Kaudulla National Park
9. Wilpattu National park
Forest Reserves, Botanical Gardens and Waterfalls
10. Sinharaja World Heritage Rain Forest
11. Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens
12. Ella and Ravana Falls
13. Knuckles Conservation Forest
View Sri Lanka Eco-tourism and wildlife destinations in a larger map
1. Yala National Park – located 24 kms northeast of Tissamaharama and 290kms from Colombo on the southeast coast covering massive area of 97878 hectares over the southern and Uva province of the country. Visitors exploring the park are exposed to an array of animals, Birds & Reptiles. At the same time Yala is famed to be one of the parks which has the highest density of Leopards in a single geographical area.
2. Bundala National Park – located closer to Hambantota city in southern province covering an area of 3339.38 hectares. Bundala is an internationally important wintering ground for migratory water birds in the country. In fact the thorny jungle is home to spotted deer, rare pangoline and the playful grey langur monkey and also sea turtles has come ashore to lay eggs during the night. In fact park is home to 32 species of fish, 15 species of amphibians, 48 race of reptiles, 197 species of bird, 32 species of mammals.
3. Kumana National Park – Located in the southeast corner of Sri Lanka, 391km from Colombo, covering an area of 18,149 hectares. Kumana is well-known eco tourism attraction and bird sanctuary where a multitude of birds breed and roost. 200 species of the birds have been species of birds have been recorded in the national park.
4. Udawalawa National Park – Located approximately 200 km south-east of Colombo city and is one of the major eco tourism destination spreading the 30,821 hectares dry zone game. It is most famous for the many elephants that live there (about 400 in total). In addition to this main attraction, the park is home to many water buffalo, water monitor lizards, sambar deer, monkeys and the occasional leopard, as well as being an exciting location for bird enthusiasts.
5. Horton Plains National Park – is covered by montage grassland and cloud forest in the country. This plateau at an altitude of 2,100–2,300 metres (6,900–7,500 ft) is rich in biodiversity and many species found here are endemic to the region. The park is home to wide variety of flora and 24 species of mammals. In fact important Bird area with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka. The sheer precipice of World’s End and Baker’s Falls are among the tourist attractions of the park.
6. Wasgamuwa National Park – located in the district of Matale and Polonnaruwa and bordered by the ‘Mahaweli’ and ‘Amban’ rivers, spreading in the area of 36948 hectares. Park is home to large number of flora and fauna as such 23 species of mammal 143 species of birds, 8 species of amphibians, 17 species of fresh water fishes and reptiles, 50 butterflies. In fact park is inhabited by a herd of 150 Sri Lankan Elephants.
7. Minneriya National Park – Located in North central Province between Habarana and Polonnaruwa. The park is a dry season feeding ground for the elephant population dwelling in forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa, and Trincomalee districts.
8. Kaudulla National Park – located on Habarana – Trincomalee main road, spanning 6600 hectares the Elephant corridor between the Somawathie sacred area & Minneriya. The park is centered on ancient Kaudulla tank (reservoir), and is a home for approximately 250 Elephants with fantastic opportunities to see many elephants at close range and including herds of juvenile males, Leopards, Fishing cat, Sloth Bear, Sambar Deer, and the endangered Rusty spotted cat.
9. Wilpattu National park – the largest park of the Island, is located 26km’s north of Puttalam, approximately 18 km north from Colombo. Varied wildlife as such Elephants, Sloth Bear, Deer, and Leopards, could be sighted.
10. Sinharaja World Heritage Rain Forest – Covering 190 square kilometers (73 square miles), the Sinharaja Forest Reserve is one of two natural world heritage sites in Sri Lanka. A tropical virgin rainforest, Sinharaja is home to a myriad of fauna and flora that is endemic to the island. More than half of Sri Lanka’s 86 species of mammals are found within the confines of this natural treasure, amongst them the elephant, purple-faced langur, the ruddy mongoose, and giant squirrels. Sinharaja is also home to the elusive leopard.
11. Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens – As Sri Lanka’s largest garden – an elegant and spacious 147-acres (60-hectares) – plenty of time is needed to stroll Peradeniya’s imposing Avenue of Royal Palms. There are some 4,000 different species of plants at Peradeniya Gardens. The 10,000 or so trees, which are the stars, are mature, lofty giants, many of them tropical timber trees. Highlights of the collection include the Giant Bamboo of Burma, capable of growing to 40 meters’ height (130 feet), with a 25-centimetre (10-inch) stem diameter. And it can grow by a rapid 30 centimeters a day (12 inches).
12. Ella and Ravana Falls – Deriving its name from the famous king ‘Raavana’ of the Indian epic ” the Raamayana”, Raavana falls is a magical sight, with the rush of water over numerous steps adding to its ethereal beauty.
13. Knuckles Conservation Forest – Deanston and Riverston