For nature lovers, Sri Lanka has an amazing diversity of fauna, thanks to its varying climatic conditions and topography. Wildlife parks and conservation zones spread throughout the country provide the best opportunity for sightings. 

Yala National Park in the South East of Sri Lanka is undoubtedly the most popular. Believed to have the highest concentration of leopard per square kilometere in the world, you would be extremely unlucky not to spot this stealthy feline here. Its scrub jungle interspersed with rocky outcrops is also home to elephant and herds of spotted deer.

In the North West, Wilpattu National Park, which is the country’s largest in terms of area, is renowned for excellent sightings of the elusive sloth bear. Its landscape is dominated with numerous shallow water bodies which are habitat to numerous species of waterbirds, both resident and migratory.

The single largest gathering of elephant in the world, can be witnessed at Minneriya National Park. Every evening, these majestic pachyderms emerge from the dense scrub in their scores to feed and water on the shores of the Minneriya lake. Elephant sightings are also very common at the Uda Walawe National Park located in the south central region. For a tamer experience, visit the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage enroute to Kandy, where baby elephants are tenderly cared for by expert handlers. Feeding and bathing time are the most interesting times to visit.

Home to five RAMSAR sites, Sri Lanka is a birders paradise. Bundala in the south is dominated by brackish water lagoons and is noted for its large flocks of migratory flamingo. In the same region, Kumana National Park was one of the first designated bird sanctuaries in the country and has a good balance of wetland and forested areas. With luck you might witness the shy Southern Sirkeer here. And the Anawilundawa Wetlands in the north-west, consist of a system of tanks which are home to diverse species of waders and waterfowl. Twenty of Sri Lanka’s twenty six endemic bird species are found in the Sinharaja Rainforest and sightings here include the beautiful Blue Magpie, Green-billed Coucal and the Red-faced Malkoha.

Sri Lanka’s wildlife is not limited to land as the surrounding ocean is a hotspot for whale and dolphin watching. The seas off the southern coastal town of Mirissa are the most popular for whale watching, with sightings occurring not too far out to sea. For dolphin watching, head to the Kalpitiya peninsula, renowned for its super pods of bottle-nosed dolphin.

Written by Jonathan Roelofsz for TLC.lk

TLC listing of Yala National PArkTLC listing of Bundala National ParkTLC listing of Wilpattu National ParkTLC listing of Minneriya National ParkTLC listing of Kumana National ParkTLC listing of Pinanwala Elephant OrphanageTLC listing of Anawilundawa Ramsar birdwatching site in Sri LankaTLC listing of Uda Walawe National ParkTLC listing of Sinharajah Rain Forest


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