The elusive Sri Lankan leopard is one of the most well-known and sought after animals in the country, second to elephants, and the best place to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures is at Yala National Park. The second largest national park in the country, Yala is located in Sri Lanka’s southern province and covers over an expansive 979 square Kilometers of land. The park is famed for its extensive variety of wild animals such as the Sri Lankan elephants, sloth bears, aquatic birds, reptiles and one of the largest concentration of leopards in the world.
The leopard is the largest predator in the park and as a result, they are extremely comfortable out in the open, offering amazing photo opportunities that you won’t find anywhere else in Sri Lanka. Tour packages organized by safe and trusted operators, such as the eco-friendly Jetwing Eco Holidays, are the best way to arrange a wildlife safari.
The national park is made up of a variety of diverse ecosystems; from dense forest vegetation, patches of open grasslands to freshwater and marine wetlands, and long stretches of sandy beaches. There are several rivers, streams and lagoons that play a vital role is sustaining the surrounding flora and fauna. There are over 215 bird species found here, with 7 endemic to the island.
Apart from leopards, from are around 44 species of mammals that includes the Sri Lankan sloth bear, golden palm civet, toque macaque, red slender loris, endangered wild water buffaloes and many others that can are seen roaming through the wild. The wild elephant population varies on a seasonal basis but it is estimated that an elephant herd in Yala contains around 300 to 350 elephants on average. All five varieties of sea turtles can be frequently seen near the parks coastline and the two common breeds of crocodile, mugger and saltwater crocodiles live near the rivers.
Be sure to spend a full day roaming through the wildness with an experienced guide who can take you to the best spots for seeing elephants, monkeys and of course, leopards!
Roland Lefevre is a travel writer who specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe.