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National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries

The jungles of Sri Lanka abound in a variety of wildlife,which is surprising for an island of its size in the tropics.From ancient days the elephants and peacock from the Sri Lankan jungles were prize exports to the Kingdoms of East and West.But apart from these well known examples of the fauna, a visit to the Sri Lankan jungles is to enter a whole new world where nature has largely stayed still.There are four majour national parks.Of these the best known is Ruhunu National Park,at Yala,in the deep South of the island.The other well known national park,at Wilpattu,is at present closed due to the prevailing conditions in the North of the island.There are also two other national parks at Inginiyagala and Udawalawe.

Sri Lanka has a rich and exotic variety of wildlife and a long tradition of conservation rooted in its 2,230 year old Buddhist civilisation. The following are the most important sanctuaries in terms of attractions, accessibility and availability of facilities.

Animal Sanctuaries

animal sanctuaries The animals to be seen in Sri Lanka's national parks include elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sambhur, deer and monkeys, wild buffalo, wild boar (pig), porcupine, ant-eater, civet cat, jackal, mongoose, loris (unique to sri Lanka) several varieties of lizards, squirrels, reptiles and amphibians. Each park however has its own specialities.

Yala (Ruhuna) National Park
monkey monara (peacock)

While the elephant is undoubtedly the best known attraction at Yala,Seen in small and large herds,what is the most appealing here is the overall mood of the undisturbed jungle.Large herds of spoted Deer are seen all over the Park,as are many Sambhur,and for those who are sharp eyed to observe,many of the endemoc Muntjac or Barking Deer.Monkeys-the pinkish Rhesus and the grey faced Langur Monkey,live and play on the tree-tops and the ground below. Wild Buffalo and Wild Boar could give you a good surprise and a great picture,while sight of a leopard sunning itself or drinking at a water hole could be a memorable experience,As dusk gathers,there is every chance of seeing the Ceylon Sloth Bear scampering with its young on it back.the progress of your vehicle could be held up by a Python across the track,and near the many waterholes will bee found whole colonies of Crocodiles.

The Peacock is easily the most famous of the birds at Yala.The mating dance of the male,with its colourful plumes fully spread,is a photographer's delight.While the Peacock has its fame,there are also many other species which attract those who are interested in bird life,and add to the mood and feel of nature.The Painted stork,many varities of heron,the poonbill,the bee-eater,many colourful parrots and parakeets,the hornbill,kingfisher and wood-pecker and hoopoe are all birds that can be seen by the observant in the jungles of Sri Lanka. There is accomodation in the national parks of Sri Lanka in special bungalows maintained by the Department of Wild Life Conservation.Dry rations are taken by the visitors and they are made for you by caretakers who are expert at turning quick,tasty meals.Travel inside the parks only by a vhicle.Four- wheel drive is recomended.Entry to the parks is by special

Yala National Park Situated 309 km. south of Colombo, Yala is approximately 1,259 in extent and is located in the south eastern corner of the island. Its northern boundaries border on the Lahugala Elephant Sanctuary and it has the added bonus of a scenic ocean frontage. The terrain is varied flat plains alternating with rocky outcrops. The vegetation ranges from open parkland to dense jungle. Water holes, small lakes, lagoons and streams provide water for the animals and birds. The speciality here is the large numbers of elephants.

Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu National Park

Situated 176 km. north of Colombo, Wilpattu is approximately 1,908 in extent. It has a dense jungle cover which makes it a more exciting park where animals have to be tracked. There are numerous delightful little lakes - known as villus - and the leopard and sloth bear are the speciality rather than elephants.

Gal Oya National Park

Gal Oya National Park Situated at Inginiyagala, the Gal Oya National Park is 314 km. from Colombo and is most renowned for its elephant population.

Uda Walawe National Park
Situated 170 km. South East of Colombo the Uda Walawe National Park is approximately 30,821 hectares in extent. This Park which lies within the Ratnapura and Monaragala Districts acts as the catchment to the Uda Walawe Reservoir and is located in the Dry Zone. This Park comprises grasslands and thorn scrubs and many valuable species of trees are found within it. Large herds of Elephants and Deer species such as spotted Deer, Sambhur, Barking deer and Langur, Wild Boar, Water Buffalo, Jackal are some of the prominent wild animals found in this Park and a variety of avifauna is seen.

Maduru Oya National Park
The Maduru Oya National Park is located in the Dry Zone and is 300 km. away from Colombo and 58,849 hectares in extent. A wide variety of wildlife including some endemic birds species and reptiles are found here. Maduru Oya is rich in ancient ruins found in different places and its southern parts provide veddhas, indigenous people their living environment. Endemic purple monkey is among the important animal species that can be seen in addition to Sambhur, a member of the cat family etc. There are some endemic avifauna also found within this Park.

Wasgamuwa National Park

Wasgamuwa National Park Situated approximately 200 km. away from Colombo, the Wasgamuwa National Park lies within the Polonnaruwa and Matale Districts and have the Mahaweli river and Amban river as its eastern and western boundaries. Tropical intermediate dry mixed evergreen forest predominates its environment.

Horton Plains National Park

Horton National Park The Horton Plains National Park is the only National Park situated in the Hill Country and falls within the Nuwara Eliya district and is 200 km. away from Colombo. Panoramic scenic beauty of the Hill Country could be witnessed within the Park. The famous `Worlds End' is a major attraction within the Park. Endemic slender loris and endemic purple monkey are among the important animal species that could be seen in addition to sambhur, a member of the cat family etc. There are some endemic avifauna also found within this Park.

Bundala National Park
Bundala National Park is the latest addition to the National Parks and is situated 260 km. away from Colombo. All species of waterbirds resident in the country and the migrant birds inhabit this Park.

Bird Sanctuaries

bird-sanctuaries The sanctuaries at Kumana 312 km. from Colombo, Wirawila 261 km. Bundala 259 km. and Kalametiya 224 km. are all lagoon locations in Sri Lanka's extreme south eastern coast. The Giant's Tank in the north western corner of the island is a huge ancient irrigation reservoir of 3,800 hectares. The coastal sanctuaries are exotically picturesque with combinations of lagoon, swamp, river, jungle, lake and plain. Large flocks can be found here of both resident and migrant aquatic birds. The highland sanctuaries at Udawattakele 118 km. from Colombo and the Peak Wilderness 141 km. are quieter but equally picturesque with wooded hills and secluded streams and have the added bonus of rare flora such as our unique Wesak Orchid as well as numerous species of rare butterflies. The Udawattakele Sanctuary is in the suburbs of Kandy, our picturesque and fascinating hill capital. The Peak Wilderness is situated on the slopes of Adam's Peak (Sri Pada), Sri Lanka's sacred mountain.

National Zoological Gardens

National Zoo Situated 11 km. from the Fort, the Zoo has a fine collection of animals, birds, reptiles and fish from all over the world. The aquarium is the only one of its kind in Asia and displays over 500 varieties of aquatic life. Also walk in through Aviary, Reptilium, Butterfly Park. There are daily elephant performance at 5.15 p.m. Open daily between 8.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. Entrance fees : Rs 90/- per adult and Rs.45/- per child.

Elephant Orphanage

Elephant Orphanage An orphanage for elephants has been set up by the department of National Zoological Gardens, at Pinnawela, 90 km. from Colombo. It was established in 1975 and several animals brought here at the inception are now mature enough for breeding, which is the ultimate aim of the institution. Entrance fees : Rs.75 per adult and Rs.40 per child.

Wild Life and Nature Protection Society

  For all information on nature safaris, hiking and birdwatching and advice on itineraries please contact Headquarters at Chaitiya Road, Marine Drive, Fort, Colombo. Tel. 325248 Telex : 21537 METALIX CE & 22933 Metalix CE Attn WPNS. Fax: 941-580721 Attn. WPNS


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Some tips and helpful notes for the tourist visiting the wild life parks and sanctuaries in Sri Lanka....

You are not permited to alight from your vehicle within the park,except at specially marked locations.Camping is permitted at special camping sites,with prior permission.You must always be accompanied by a tracker provided by the park authorities.Please refrain from disturbing the peace of the wild with the use of radios,casette and CD players or loud music of your own.And,as in any other place,but more so in the wild,do not leave any litter behind.Park Bungalows Visitors to National Parks could find accomodation in Park Bungalows maintained by the Wil Life Conservation.All bungalows have basic amenities;water on tap, refrigerators, toilet, cutlery, crockery and presure lamps.Services of Bungalow Keeper and Assistant provided.

Reservations:Minimum of five persons (children under 12 years at half rate at US$ 10/- per person per day.Bookings only through Department of Wild Life Conservation,493,T.B. Jaya Mawatha,Colomo 10,Tel- 094-691321 , 688261/2. Hints to those who rent park bungalows-Take your dry rations and linon.Take plenty of fresh fruit-pineapple,papayas,banana,mango etc.Vegetables,some drinking water,coke,soda and other carbonated drinks,liquor,suger,eggs,bread,bacon,frozen or roast meat.Please note that once you are in the park you will have to travel several miles outside the park to reach the nearest town,and there too all your needs may not be found.Take a stock of fuel for your vehicle.

But just make sure nothing is found wanting at the other end.If you are touring on your own make sure to obtain all provisions from Colombo,or at least Galle or Matara (if travelling on the Southern route);Haputale or Bandarawela (if coming through the hills) and Ratnapura (if comming from the gem country).Those visiting Wilpattu should obtain supplies from Kurunegala,Puttalam or Anurdapura.Take plenty of Photographic films with you. All tourist who visit the National Park are required to pay a park fee and a vehicle fee.This applies to those who rent park bungalows as well.Park fees: Rs. 100/- per prson per day.Vehicle fees: Rs. 10/- per jeep (four-wheel drive vehicle. Entry to Ruhunu National Park-Yala,is restricted to 30 vehicles at any given time. Use of a four-wheel drive vehicles is recommended.

Your bungalow cook is used to the preperation of both Western and Eastern five star hotel. Casual VisitorsCould avail themselves of conducted tour leaving Yala Park Office and Wilpattu Park Office at 6 a.m & 3 p.m.for a 2-1/2 hour tour of either.The Park entry fee is Rs.50/- per paxJeep hire for a pax of 5 is Rs.625/- (not including park fees).Seat in a mini coach at yala is Rs.140/- and Wilpattu Rs.150/- (inclusive of park fee).


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