Yala National Park is the second largest and the most visited park in Sri Lanka. It consists of five blocks, of which two are open to the public including adjoining parks. The park being 979 square kilometres in area is spread out in the Southern Province and Uva province of Sri Lanka.
The park is vital for the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants and water birds and many other wild animals. The park is best known for the variety of wild animals of which 44 species of mammals, 215 species of birds and 46 species of reptiles are resident in it. Of the mammals, Sri Lankan elephants, Sri Lankan Sloth Bear, Sri Lankan Leopard, Wild water buffalo are threatened species. Fishing Cat, Golden Palm Civet, Red Slender Loris, Toque Macaque are some of the other mammals that can be seen in the park.
Of the birds, six species are endemic to Sri Lanka. They are Sri Lanka Hornbill, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Wood-pigeon, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Black-capped Bulbul, and Brown-capped Babbler. The park is also resident to about 90 migratory birds.
Of the reptiles, five of them are endemic to Sri Lanka. They are, Sri Lankan Flying Snake, Sri Lankan Krait, Painted-lip Lizard, Boulenger’s Keelback and Wiegmann’s Agama.
Yala National park also has a variety of ecosystems including semi deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, fresh water, sandy beaches, marine wetlands and moist monsoon forests. The park is surrounded by these forests which are generally located around the Menik River while Rangelands are found towards the sea side.
The coastal line of the park is visited by the all five globally endangered sea turtles (Leatherback turtle, Olive Ridley, Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Hawksbill turtle, and Green turtle). The western part of park is also known to have one of the highest densities of Leopards in the world which can usually be sited in Block 1 of the Yala National Park.
The easiest way to get to this park is to take a tour from the city of Tissamaharama.
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