One reason for many tourists to visit Sri Lanka is its wildlife. Though Sri Lanka is very small in land area it has been declared a biodiversity hotspot on a global scale .There are over 25 popular national parks in Sri Lanka, and each one of them has something unique to offer. Visitors are allowed in to these reserves where you can take safari trips with a trained guide provided by the reserves themselves.
Angammedilla National Park is one of the new national parks in Sri Lanka. The region was designated
national park on 6th June, 2006. Angammedilla was a forest reserve within the Minneriya-Girithale
Sanctuary. The park is declared mainly to protect the drainage basin of Parakrama Samudra. Angammedilla
also secures the drainage basins of Minneriya and Girithale irrigation tanks, water sources in Sudu Kanda
("White hill") and habitats and wildlife of the adjacent forests. It is located 225 kilometres (140 mi)
away from Colombo in Polonnaruwa District.
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Bundala National Park is an internationally important wintering ground for migratory water birds
in Sri Lanka. Bundala harbors 197 species of Birds, the highlight being the Greater Flamingo, which migrate
in large flocks. In 2005 the national park was designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, the fourth
biosphere reserve in Sri Lanka. The national park is situated 245 kilometres (152 mi) southeast of Colombo.
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Gal Oya National Park in Sri Lanka was established in 1954 and serves as the main catchment area
for Senanayake Samudraya, the largest reservoir in Sri Lanka. Senanayake Samudraya was built under
the Gal Oya development project by damming the Gal Oya at Inginiyagala in 1950. An important feature
of the Gal Oya National Park is its elephant herd that can be seen throughout the year.
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Horton Plains National Park is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is
covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. 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.
It is also a popular tourist destination and is situated 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Nuwara Eliya.
The plains' vegetation is grasslands interspersed with montane forest, and includes many endemic
woody plants. Large herds of Sri Lankan Sambar Deer feature as typical mammals, and the park is
also an Important Bird Area with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka but restricted to
the Horton Plains.
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Historically Kaudulla was one of the 16 irrigation tanks built by King Mahasen. Following a period
of abandonment it was reconstructed in 1959. It now attracts and supports a variety of plant and animal
life, including large mammals, fish and reptiles. Along with Minneriya and Girithale Bird Life
International have identified Kaudulla as an Important Bird Area Park is located 197 kilometres
(122 mi) away from Colombo.
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Kumana National Park in Sri Lanka is renowned for its avifauna, particularly its large flocks
of migratory waterfowl and wading birds. The park is 391 kilometres (243 mi) southeast of Colombo
on Sri Lanka's southeastern coast. Kumana is contiguous with Yala National Park. Kumana was formerly
known as Yala East National Park, but changed to its present name in 5 September 2006.
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Lahugala Kitulana National Park is one of the smallest national parks in Sri Lanka. Despite its land area, the park is an important habitat for Sri Lankan Elephant and endemic birds of Sri Lanka. The national park contains the reservoirs of Lahugala, Kitulana and Sengamuwa and they are ultimately empties to Heda Oya river. Lahugala is situated 318 km east of Colombo.
Lunugamvehera National Park in Sri Lanka was declared in 1995, with the intention of protecting
the catchment area of the Lunugamvehera reservoir and wildlife of the area. The national park is an
important habitat for water birds and elephants. The catchment area is vital to maintain the water
levels of the five tanks in the down stream of Kirindi Oya and wetland characteristics of Bundala
National Park. This national park also serves as a corridor for elephants to migrate between Yala
National Park and Udawalawe National Park. The national park is situated 261 km (162 mi) southwest
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Maduru Oya National Park acts as a catchment of the Maduru Oya Reservoir. The park was designated
on 9 November 1983. Providing a sanctuary to wildlife, especially for elephants and protecting the
immediate catchments of five reservoirs are the importance of the park. A community of Vedda people,
the indigenous ethnic group of Sri Lanka lives within the park boundary in Henanigala. The park is
situated 288 kilometres (179 mi) north-east of Colombo.
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Minneriya National Park is a national park in North Central Province of Sri Lanka, protecting
the catchment of Minneriya tank and the wildlife of the surrounding area. The tank is of historical
importance, having been built by King Mahasen in third century AD. The park is a dry season feeding
ground for the elephant population dwelling in forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa, and Trincomalee districts.
The park is situated 182 kilometres (113 mi) from Colombo.
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Somawathiya Chaitya, a stupa said to be containing a relic of the tooth of the Buddha,
is situated within the park. The park is home to many megaherbivores. The national park is located
266 kilometres (165 mi) north-east of Colombo.
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Udawalawe National Park lies on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces, in Sri Lanka.
The national park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction
of the Udawalawe reservoir on the Walawe River, as well as to protect the catchment of the reservoir.
Before the designation of the national park, the area was used for shifting cultivation (chena farming).
The farmers were gradually removed once the national park was declared. The park is 165 kilometres
(103 mi) from Colombo. Udawalawe is an important habitat for water birds and Sri Lankan Elephants.
It is a popular tourist destination and the third most visited park in the country.
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Wasgamuwa National Park is situated in the Matale and Polonnaruwa Districts . It was declared to protect and to make a refuge for the displaced wild animals during the Mahaweli Development Project in 1984 and is one of the four National Parks designated under the Project. Wasgamuwa is one of protected areas where Sri Lankan Elephants can be seen in large herds. It is also one of the Important Bird Areas in Sri Lanka.The park is situated 225 km away from Colombo.
The unique feature of this park is the existence of Natural lakes , sand-rimmed
water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. Located in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone
of Sri Lanka. The park is located 30 km west Anuradhapura and located 26 km north of Puttalam
(approximately 180 km north of Colombo). The park is 131, 693 hectares and ranges from 0 to 152 meters
above sea level. Nearly sixty lakes (Willu) and tanks are found spread throughout Wilpattu. Wilpattu is
the largest and one of the oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is among the top national parks
world renowned for its Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) population.
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Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. The park
consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public, and also adjoining parks.
The blocks have individual names such as, Ruhuna National Park (block 1) and Kumana National
Park or 'Yala East' for the adjoining area. It is situated in the southeast region of the country,
and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. The park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi)
and is located about 300 kilometres (190 mi) from Colombo. The park is best known for its variety
of wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants and aquatic birds.
Click to See the best places to stay near Yala National Park