Wilpattu National Park

Located in the north west of the country, Wilpattu is Sri Lanka's oldest and largest national park. Wilpattu literally means Land of Lakes, and it gets this name from the numerous water bodies called villus, numbering over fifty, which lie scattered amongst the forested areas of the park. The villus are shallow depressions in the ground which hold rainwater from the wet season, and are a distinguishing feature of the park. The vastness of Wilpattu makes it very different to other national parks in the country as even during peak season very few visitors are encountered, making it an isolated and one with nature experience.

Wilpattu harbours a large population of leopard, but its large size means they are spread thinly. Experienced game trackers who accompany every vehicle entering the park, have intimate knowledge of the felines movements, which make sightings easier. Most often, leopard are seen around the scrub jungle of the villus from where they lie in wait for their prey. The sloth bear is generally shy and tends to keep to the dense woodlands and sightings are rare. Most elephants in the park also stick to the wooded areas and mainly venture out into the open areas to water at villus. Spotted deer abound and the larger sambhur is very common. Other animals that can be seen at Wilpattu include wild buffalo, wild boar, barking deer, grey langurs, mongoose and jackal.

The villus are a haven for birdlife and painted stork, white ibis, purple and grey herons include their permanent residents. Waterfowl such as whistling teal, cormorant, gargeny and pintail also frequent their food rich waters. Mugger crocodiles make the villus their home, stealthily lying in the waters to grab unsuspecting prey.

Wildlife safari tour operators in Wilpattu National Park;

* L M Safari Services

* LLT Jeep Safari

Written by Jonathan Roelofsz for TLC.lk

Images: TLC.lk stock images and L M Safari Services

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