National Parks and Sanctuaries of Sri Lanka

The Department of Wild Life and The Department of Conservation manage the all national parks and sanctuaries in Sri Lanaka. There is a little different between Wild Life sanctuaries and National Parks. Wild life Sanctuaries are not allowed free movements. Even if Sri Lanaka is very small in lands, many beautiful national parks and Wild Life reserves and Sanctuaries are there established in throughout in Sri Lanka which has great bio diversity with fauna and flora and with many species endemic to the Island. It is compulsory to get permission and guide provided by the park to visit the inside. As Sri Lanka strives to provide protection to the Sanctuaries and National parks, the rules enacted by the administration of the parks should be followed by the visitors.

Entering Ethics

the few numbers of guidelines which should be followed by the visitors, have been noticed on general park ethics by the department of Wild Life conservation. Those are follows

1. National parks are the home of animals and you must remember that you are a visitor.
2. Thre are Guides at each and every park entrance; a guide must accompany all excursions and will   provide all necessary information.
3. Keep strictly to the tracks within the park during the trip and always remain your vehicle.
4. Maintain a fair distance between vehicles at all times.
5. Animals have the right of way and you must stop the vehicle when animals are crossing the road; this also allows visitors to observe animals in the open.
5. Most animals have a keen scene of alien sounds so that you should not sound your horn or raise your voice.
6. Avoid feeding animals.
7. Don't use radios and cassettes in the forest; the forest has its own sounds listen to them.
8.Don't use flashes for photography, as sudden blinding lights could alarm animals.
9. Avoid smoking within the park, as forests are vulnerable to fire, especially during the dry season.
10.Try to wear earthy colors that blend with park surroundings, such as brown or green, instead of colors that disturb the eye.
11. Don't dispose of litter or any sort of garbage within the park.
12. Respect animals and keep a safe distance.
13. Don't collect or destroy wild flowers and ornamental plants.
14. Don't take pets within park precincts.
15. Don't take firearms into the park.

Travel Information

1. Any time between 6.30 am to 6.30 pm can be visited the park.
2. All national parks charge an entry fee from each visitors and entrance gets issue the tickets.
3. At the head Office of the Department of Wild Life Conservation, people must made reservations of circuit bungalows and camp sites on the necessities.
4. Address of the head office of the Department of Wild life Conservation is

                The Department of Wild Life Conservation
                18 Gregory's Road Colombo 7.
                Tel: 0112694241.
                Fax: 0112698556.

Yala National Park

Among the many national parks this is the largest park started in 1938, situated southeast region in the dry zone (about 300 km from Colombo) in Sri Lanka, and its land area is belonging to both South and Uva Provinces.

All the big game wild animals such as leopards, crocodile, elephants, wild boar, sambas, spotted dear, sloth bear, wild buffalo and many varieties of birds with migratory birds including peacock, crested serpent eagle, painted stork, black necked stork, white ibis, jungle fowl like Yala as safari destination and a home and apart from them many small animals (gray, ruddy & striped mongoose, gray languor, black napped hare, porcupine are in the park)
Secondary lowland dry monsoon forest & semi arid thorny scrub lands and mangroves, sand dunes, small patches of riverine forest and dry grasslands is the vegitation structure of the forest. While, Weera (Drypetes Sepiaria), Malitthan (Salvadora Persica), Kohomba (Azadirachta Indica) mainly dominate the forest area, Andara (Dichrostachys Cineria), Eraminiya (Ziziphus sp) dominate as the thorny scrub lands and as the mangrove vegitation is dominated by Sonneratia, Acanthus, and Lumnitzera species.

Yla has divided into five blocks, first and second blocks have open for the visitors. The total land area of the park is 97881 hectares (1250 sq Km) including the area opened for the visitors.

Visitors can get to Yala from South via Hambanthota and Thangalla or via Udawalawe from thanamalvila, Bandarawela and Nuwaraeliya.

Wasgamuwa National Park

 Among the most national parks in Sri Lanka is unique park and only park in the central province (on central and north central) with land area of 39322 hectares where elephants are in their natural habitats. At the beginning this is declared as a strict nature reserve in the year of 1938, after that as a national park in year of 1984.
 As the vegetation structure of the forest dry mixed evergreen forest, grass lands, wet lands and fairly large riverine forest, because of the park is surrounded by the two rivers such as Mahaweli river and Amban River the riverine forest area is fairly big.
As the flora Weera (Drypetes Sepiaria), Palu (Manikara Hhexandra), Satin (Chloroxylon Swietenia), Wa (Cassia Roxburghi), Gal Siyambala (Dialium Ovoideum), and Ebony (Diosryros Ebenum). Kunbuk (Terminalia Arjuna), Thimbiri (Diospyros Malabarica) and Mee (Madhuca Longfola) dominate as the riverine forest of the park.

Many people consider this park as an Elephant habitat that is more wildish. As well as Elephants, Leopards, Sloth Bear, Sambhur, Spotted and Barking Deer, Wild Boar and Wild Buffalo, Torque Macaque, Purple Face Leaf monkey and Nocturnal Slender Loris, Lesser Adjutant, Wooly Necked Stork, Open Bill, Painted Stork, Racket Tailed Drongo, Yellow Fronted Barbet, Sri Lanka Junglefowl & Spurfowl (among the over 100 species of birds) are the fauna of the Wasgamuwa national park including with inherited animals in Sri Lanka.
Visitors can get to Wasgamuwa National park from Mathale and Hettipoal or from Dehiatthakandiya coming from Polonnaruwa or from Mahiyanganaya.

Udawalawe National Park

Including 30821 hectare, the Udawalawe national park is situated 70 km from Udawalawe town that is in the dry zone of the country and was established in 1972 belonging to two province such as Sabaragamuwa and Uva. Though a small segment of the national park lies within the intermediate zone of the country, since the other large segment lies in the dry zone , long dry season can be seen, so it is the characteristic feature of the park. Southwest monsoon (May to September) is the main source of rain fall to the Udawalawe national park.
Udawalawe reservoir and Walawe River give special attractions to the Udawalawe national park. Dry lowland forest, grass lands, thorny scrub lands, and riverine forest, can be seen throughout the park.
 The ebony (Diospyros Ebenum), Ehala (Cassia Fatula), Satin (Chloroxylon Swetenia), Milla (Vites Pinata) are the major tree species within the park. As the riverine forest Mandora (Hopea Cordifolia), Kumbuk (Terminalia Arjuna) can be stated, and Illuk (Imperata Cylindrica), Daminiya (Grewia Tiliafilia) and Mana (Cymbopogon Confertiflorus) represent as grass lands and scrub land.

So many kind of animals are there in the park as fauna, such as Elephants (this is a shelter of the elephants), monkeys, water buffaloes, wild boar, spotted & barking deer, sambhur, grey & striped necked mongoose, jackal & ruddy, leopard and jungle & fishing cats and as birds (avifauna); changeable hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle, white-bellied sea eagle & grey-headed fishing eagle, painted stroks, open bill, little & indian cormorant, Indian darter, species of eaders, warblers, Sri lankan junglefowl, malabar pied hornbill, sikir malkoha, grey hornbill and common caucal are found in the forest.
Visitors can get to Udawalawe from Rathnapura, from down south Hambanthota or thangalla and from Haputhale and Bandarawela. Udawalawe is close to Yala national park.

Mduruoya National Park

This is a new one and designed to protect the five reservoirs which developed under the Mahaweli Development Programme. The contribution of the park to protect the reservoirs is crucial to the success of the Mahaweli Project. Maduruoya National park has lied between the Mahiyanganaya - Padiyathalawa and Plonnaruwa - Batticaloa roads, those are in Ampara, Badulla and Polonnaruwa district and Eastern and Uva Provinces. The West and North Mahaweli Development areas and the south and east teak plantations and jungles has surrounded the park area. Kuda Sigiriya is in this area and it is a great eco location for the explorers.

The park provides refuge for many kinds of animals, particularly the park and maduruoya is a well known habitat for the Elephants, they are hard reaching to Maduruoya reservoir. As fauna, Elephants, Sloth bear, Leopards, Sambhur, Spotted and Barking deer, Wild buffalo, Wild Boar, purple face leaf monkey, and nocturnal slender loris are found in the park. Over 100 species of birds can be seen within the park, among them lesser adjutant, open bill, painted stork, wooly necked stork, racket tailed drongo, yellow fronted barbet, Sri Lanka junglefowl are commonly seen.
Visitors can get to reach Maduruoya National Park from Mathale, Hettipola, Dehiattakandiya, Mahiyanganaya, from Manampitiya is the main access. Maduruoya is nearby Wasgamuwa National Park.

As accommodation two circuit bungalows and one dormitory at the park office in front of Maduruoya reservoir are there for the visitors.

Weerawila National Park

Weerawila National Park situated in the dry zone, and it is one main sanctuaries of Sri Lanka, since Weerawila Wewa, Pannagamuwa Wewa, and Debara Wewa are within the national Park, shorebirds use this lakes as their ideal habitats. Specially during the dry season most animals of the area like to reach those lakes. Because of the South Coast and Bundala National Park are close to the Weerawila National Park lot of migratory birds are in Weerawila National Park. Among those Birds comorants, white ibis, egrets, asian openbill, eurasian spoonbill can also be seen in here. Feral Buffaloes are the most common animals to the Park.
Visitors can reach Weerawila National Park from South Coast of the Sri Lanka.

Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains Forest has been declared as a National Park in 1988 vesting 3160 hectares as land area. This is in Central Province, and in the highland of the country. Horton Plains is there in this National park ans it is the highest plateau in the country. Kirigalpottha & Thotupola mountains has also included within the borders of the park. Those are second and third highest mountain in the country. By starting from the park, the rivers of Mahaweli, Kelani, Walawe flow down through the park. Those are major rivers in Sri Lanka and Mahaweli is the longest river in the island. Northeast, southwest, and inter monsoons are the ways of getting rainfall to the park. many months of the year, precipitation, frequently occurring mist (ground frost) & clouds, and low temperature can be seen in the park. In addition to the wild life, panoramic scenic beauty of the hill country of the Sri Lanka, world famous "World's End" can also be seen within this National Park.
According to the biodiversity of the country, this area which has consisted with montane cloud forests embedded in wet grasslands has been added an important value to Sri Lanka with a rich bio diversity which has endemic fauna and flora. When consider the flora Horton Plains National Park are dominated by giant tree fern Cyathea sp, cocourful rhododrendron, syzygium sp, calophyllum sp and some beautiful species of flowers are also in the park such as endemic Nellum (strobilanthes sp), binara (exacum trinervium), bovitiya (osbeckiya sp) and many other species of orchid. The edge of the rivers are there endemic bamboo (arundinaria densifolia) and grasslands are decorated by the grasses of chrysopogon zeylanicum and garnotia mutica.
The most of the fauna in the Horton Plains National Park are endemic. Long before, elephants were in the park, but now can't see the elephants. Commonly seen large animals within the park are leopards, wild boar and sambhur. As other animals in the park, black napped hare, giant squirrel, otter, rusty spotted, endemic bear monkey, fishing cats, many species of endemic rats, amphibians, reptiles (lizards) can be stated. Since bio diversity of this area is very high so many endemic birds are also found in the park.
Easy, most suitable ways to be reached Horton plains National Park can be got from Thalawakele and Nuwaraeliya towns.

Bundala National Park

Belonging land area of 6216 hectares, Bundala National Park commenced as a sanctuary in the year of 1969, and situated in the southern province and southeast part of the country which is in the semi arid zone. Northeast monsoons is the main source of rainfall to the park region and long drought season can be seen in the year.
Dry mixed ever green forest, dry grass lands, sand dunes, throny scrub lands, four brackish lagoons and salt pans are the main attractions of the park except fauna.
While palu (manikara hexandra), weera (drypetes sepiaria), maila (bauhinia racemosa), mallithan (salvadora persica), diwul (limonia acidissima) represent the typical dominant forest of the park. Eraminiya (ziziphus sp), karamba (carrisa spinarum), andara (dichrostachys), prosopis juliflora and opuntia delini are the trees of scrublands.
In the fauna of the park, elephants, wild boar, spotted dear, black napped hare, Grey & ruddy mongoose, grey langur & porcupine, jackal, fishing & rusty spotted cats, toque macaque, get shelter for their living.
Since both migratory and resident species of birds are there in the park, they give a good attractions to the park and it is famous for the birds life. Waders, greater flamingo, black necked stork, spot billed pelican, lesser adjutant, large flocks of terns, gulls, sand pipers, snipes, teals, cormorants, many water species of water birds ans egrets are found in the Bundala National Park.

Minneriya National Park

Consisting of 8890 hectares in land extent, minneriya national park has situated in north central province & plains, in Polonnaruwa District, 182km from capital city of Sri Lanka, and close to Polonnaruwa town. Wild Elephants are the flagship species of the park.
The rain water reservoir of Minneriya is a one of the main irrigation tanks in Polonnaruwa and this renovated reservoir is the focal point of the park. A considerable agricultural area of Pollonnaruwa District, like paddy fields are irrigated by MInneriya rain water reservoir. With long dry season, tropical monsoon is the climate of Minneriya park. Kaudulla and Wasgamuwa National Parks have joined up with Minneriya Park, so that the park affords the opportunities for the visitors to sight huge herds of Elephants and other animals throughout the whole year. 
While tropical dry mixed evergreen forests with grass land, abandoned chena lands and wet lands represent the vegetation of the park, old chena lands and open grass lands are dominated by many species of small shrub. While palu (manikara hexandra), and milla (vitex altissima), kalumediriya (diospyros quaesita), satin (chloroxylon swietenia), weera (drypets sepiaria), halmilla (berrya cordifolia) are the large trees in the park, the abandoned chenas are dominated by keppettia (groton sp), wara (calotropis gigantea), kukuruman (randia dumetorum), and grasses such as illuk (imerata cylindirca), katu una (bambusa bambos), wali indi (phonenix xeylanica), and pohon (panicum maximum).
  In the fauna of the park, elephants, leopards, spotted deer, sloth bear, wild buffalo, sambar deer, grey langers, wild pig, purple faced leaf monkey, porcupine & Indian pangolin and three species of mongoose are the several animals among the 24 species of mammals in the park. From migrating waders like Woodsand piper, rufus Woodpecker the globally endangered Lesser Adjutant and the endemics Sri Lanka Grey horn-bill, Common sandpiper & kentish plovers to forest birds like Malabar-pied Hornbills, Brown-capped Babbler and Sri Lanka Jungle fowl, Sri Lanka Green pigeon are few of common highlights among the recorded 170 species of birds. Among the 25 species of reptiles that are living in the park, eight are endemic to Sri Lanka, red lipped lizard, water and land monitors are among those species. About nine species of amphibians are there in the Minneriya National Park, the all are endemic to Sri Lanka.

Thre is an entrance to park at Ambagaswewa, and it can be reached via Habarana-Polonnaruwa road.

Gal Oya National Park
Comprising 260 squire kilo meters, Galoya National Park was commenced in 1954 and this park has owned scrub lands, open countryside and ground an artificial reservoir which named as Senanayaka Samudraya or Senanayaka Sea.
Both evergreen forest and huge grass land represent the vegitation of the Gal Oya National park.
Sloth bear, Elephants, leopards, wild boar, water buffalo, species of dear, endemic toque macaque and common langur are the several animals (beasts) among the 30 species of mammals. In the Gal Oya National Park, obout 150 species of birds also reside.

Lahugala National Park
For providing a safe corridor to the Elephants to move between Gal Oya and Yala National Parks, Lahugala forest has been named as Lahugala National Park. Becaouse of the abudance of reservoirs, this tiny park which has a growing grazing ground attract the number of Elephants and other various species of animals and birds specially in the dry season.

Passing 7km from Madatugama junction of Colombo to Anuradhapura highway, this unique forest can be reached and it has situated in the dry zone of the country. The land area of the Jathika Namal Uyana own a pink quartz mountain which differentiates mountains in Asia, and it has the largest iron wood forest it is unique forest for the world (with over 260 acres of iron woods (mesua ferara) forest) which is endemic trees to Sri Lanka. The mountain of pink quartz is said to has a history of more than 550 millions of years (according to the archeological research). During the reign of Devanampiyathissa, Namal Uyana has named as a sanctuary for the Buddhist monk in 8th century AD. After few years of 8th century AD Namal Uyana used as a prison camp to plant iron wood trees as punishment. During the reign of king Duppula, it declared as human sanctuary.
In the garden of 260 acres, 102 species of tropical plants are there with including 82 of herbal plants. As all small medical plants of the forest are under the iron wood forest, those are protected from the hot sunlight by the dominated forest. Because of the Na trees, Namal Uyana is one of the most coolest places in Sri Lanka and the cool area makes the good feelings in the minds. The Na tree is a significant and native tree also to Sri Lanka as well as India, Mlayasiya, Papua neviginniya, Thiland and Buruma and the Na is the national tree of Sri Lanka that has been given a great value by Buddhist and other religious. Because of Jathika Namal Uyana give abundant natural resources and great values to the country, in side of historical, biological, artistic, geographical. Recently the wild life conservation has declared this as a national heritage site. Elephants, monkey, deer, leopards and many species of birds and other number of animals use the Namal Uyana as their shelter.

Ancient places (Which has long istory) in Jathika Namal Uyana
1. Purana Namal Seya
2. Bodhigaraya
3. Pilimageya
4. Awasageya
5. Simamalaakaya
6. Padhanagara
7. Galpahana
8. Galpathraya
9. Asanagaraya
10. Sakman Maluwa
11. Pabbtha Viharaya

Kaudulla Wildlife Park
Kaudulla Wildlife Park is a new and latest addition for the list of Sri Lanka wild life parks and it is placed in Eastern Province and North Eastern part of the country with 6900 hectares in land area.  

Sinharaja Rain Forest

The Sinharaja forest is the only rain forest and remaining tropical lowland rain forest in Sri Lanka which was legally protected, so no one can cut down or destroy the resources within the forest in anyway.
The humid evergreen forest has situated in the South Western Zone in the country, owing about 11187 hectares in land area and the both monsoon give rainfall to the forest (May to July and October to December).
Sinharaja Adaviya is another name for the forest (Sinharaja means lion king) because  it is said to have belonged to the ancient lion king of Sri Lanka.
Sinharaja is a living heritage which its ecological value and factors has made the forest attractions and popular tourist's destination and it is a important research place for Ecological and Biological scientists.
Many rivers and streams are there in the forest.
Most of the plants and animals found in the Sinharaja are endemic to Sri Lanka. The forest hosts lot of endemic wildlife, particularly birds as well as mammals, reptiles, insects, butterflies and rare amphibians.
Large number of plants, including several rare and variety trees used for Ayurvedic Medicine are also growing in the forest.
This is a main shelter for the many rare birds, animals, insects found within but nowhere in the world. Sinharaja is truly a national treasure and heritage to Sri Lanka as well as to the world.
Lovers of the forest
Diversity of flora and fauna of the forest attracts the Ecological lovers, Ecological scientists and visitors and it has always been a paradise for the most of them.
As variety endemic species of trees, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects, birds are in the forest including rare plants ans animals, it is a treasure strove of variety of endemic species. 60% from the plants are endemic and most of them are also rare. Dear species like sambhur, purple faced langur (the commonest larger animal), monk deer and barking deer are found in Sinharaja Forest. It provide the shelter also for rare endemic birds and also for the several species of Butterflies which are found and living in the forest, such as the red faced malkoha, the Sri Lanka blue magpie, the white headed starling, the ashy headed barbbler and the green billed coucal.