Yala National Park
Yala National Park is the most popular and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. Located about 300 Km southeast of Colombo it lies in Southern and Uva provinces of Sri Lanka. The park consists of five blocks and several adjascent parks. Ruhuna National Park (Block 1) and Kumana National Park (Yala East) are the two most visited blocks. Yala is famous for watching a variety of wild animals such as Sri Lankan elephants, leopards and aquatic birds.
Yala National Park has a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to marine wetlands and sandy beaches. There are around 300 floral species found in the park; and some of them are endemic to the park.
Yala is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. The park is home to 215 bird species, and six of them are endemic to Sri Lanka. They are Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Black-capped Bulbul, and Brown-capped Babbler. The number of waterbirds inhabiting wetlands of Yala is 90 and half of them are migrants. Black-necked Stork and Lesser Adjutant are the rare birds that can be seen in the park. Thousands of waterfowls migrate to the lagoons of Yala during the northeast monsoon.
44 species of mammals reside in Yala National Park; of which Sri Lankan Elephant and Leopards are the well-known. It has one of the highest leopard densities in the world. The elephant herd of Yala contains 300–350 individuals. Sri Lankan Sloth Bear, Sri Lankan Leopard, Sri Lankan Elephant, Wild water buffalo are threatened species at Yala. Toque Macaque, Golden Palm Civet, Red Slender Loris, and Fishing Cat are among the other mammals that can be seen in Yala. The reptile fauna recorded from the park is 46 and five of them are endemic. Sri Lankan Krait, Boulenger's Keelback, Sri Lankan Flying Snake, Painted-lip Lizard and Wiegmann's Agama are the endemic species. The coastal line of the park is visited by the all five globally endangered sea turtles (Leatherback turtle, Olive Ridley, Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Hawksbill turtle, and Green turtle) that visit Sri Lanka. The two breeding crocodile species of Sri Lanka, Mugger crocodile and Saltwater Crocodile inhabit the park. The Indian Cobra and Russell's viper are among the other reptiles. There are 18 amphibians species that have been recorded from Yala. In the water courses of Yala, 21 fresh water fishes are found. A variety of butterfly species is also found in Yala.