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Yala National Park SRI LANKA

YALA NATIONAL PARK-SRI LANKA
One of Sri Lanka’s premier eco tourism destinations, lies 24km northeast of Tissamaharama and 290km from Colombo on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka, spanning a vast 97,878 hectares over the Southern and Uva Provinces.
The vegetation in the park comprises predominantly of semi-arid thorny scrub, interspersed with pockets of fairly dense secondary forest. Small patches of mangrove vegetation also occur along the coastal lagoons. The park is renowned for the variety of its Wildlife (most notably its many elephants) and its fine coastline (with associated coral reefs). It also boasts a large number of important cultural ruins, bearing testimony to earlier civilizations and indicating that much of the area used to be populated and well developed.
Block one is the most visited area since it contains the highest density of leopards. However other areas of Yala such as Yala East had been closed to visitors for some years and it will take time to research leopard numbers in these areas. Yala West consists of scrub jungle, brackish lagoons and stunning rock monoliths scattered throughout the park, its eastern edge is bounded by the South East coast. Yala has well over thirty leopards, probably the highest density anywhere in the world. It is also thought that Sri Lankan leopards are a distinct sub-species from their Indian neighbors, and the largest leopards in Asia.
There is also a substantial elephant population along with Spotted deer, Sambar, Wild buffalo, Sloth bear, Jackal, Mongoose, Pangolins and Crocodiles. The bird life comprises over 120 species, and ranges from Lesser Flamingos to Paradise Flycatchers, Crested Hawk Eagles, and Black Bitterns. Outside of the park are several other fascinating birding locations, including the ancient hermitage of Sithulpahuwa, Debarawewa wetland and Palatupana saltpans. The coastline forms a major nesting ground for marine turtles. The drier season falls between May and August and the park closes for a short time during September and October.
It is possible to take full day jeep safaris or to split your day into morning and afternoon drives. Your best chance to see a leopard is generally early in the morning and then again at dusk. You can stay until just after dark inside the park, thus maximizing your chances of a leopard encounter. The male leopards in Yala are very confident and are often seen walking the tracks during the day. Young males in particular seem to have no fear of the jeep, which can lead to some excellent photographic opportunities. There are similarities between Yala and the best National Parks in India for photographing tigers, in both cases the big cats have become used to the jeeps thus enabling us to enjoy a privileged view of these magnificent animals.
It is possible to take full day jeep safaris or to split your day into morning and afternoon drives. Your best chance to see a leopard is generally early in the morning and then again at dusk. You can stay until just after dark inside the park, thus maximizing your chances of a leopard encounter. The male leopards in Yala are very confident and are often seen walking the tracks during the day. Young males in particular seem to have no fear of the jeep, which can lead to some excellent photographic opportunities. There are similarities between Yala and the best National Parks in India for photographing tigers, in both cases the big cats have become used to the jeeps thus enabling us to enjoy a privileged view of these magnificent animals.
There is also a substantial elephant population along with Spotted deer, Sambar, Wild buffalo, Sloth bear, Jackal, Mongoose, Pangolins and Crocodiles. The bird life comprises over 120 species, and ranges from Lesser Flamingos to Paradise Flycatchers, Crested Hawk Eagles, and Black Bitterns. Outside of the park are several other fascinating birding locations, including the ancient hermitage of Sithulpahuwa, Debarawewa wetland and Palatupana saltpans. The coastline forms a major nesting ground for marine turtles. The drier season falls between May and August and the park closes for a short time during September and October.