Yala National Park

Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. It Is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. The park covers 979 square kilometres. The park Is best known for its variety of wild animals. It Is Important for the conser-vation of Sri Lankan elephants, Sri Lankan leopards and aquatic birds.

The Yala National Park is the most visited park in Sri Lanka. Most of the visitors stated that reasons for their visit are to see wild animals, and elephant is the must preferred animal. The visitors like to see bears, leopards, birds as well. Yale National Park has a variety of ecosystems Including moist monsoon forests, dry monsoon forests, semi deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, fresh water and marine wetlands. and sandy beaches. Yala is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas In Sri Lanka. Of 215 bird species of the park, six are endemic to Sri Lanka. The number of water-birds 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. The migrant great white pelican and resident spot-billed pelican are also having been recorded. Including Sri Lankan elephant, 44 species of mammals are resident in Yala National Park, and it has one of the highest leopard densities In the world. The reptile fauna recorded from the park is 47 and six of them are endemic. The coastal line of the park Is visited by the all five globally endangered sea turtles that visit Sri Lanka. The two breeding crocodile species of Sri Lanka, mugger crocodile and saltwater crocodile inhabit the park.

In the water courses of Yala, 21 fresh water fishes are found. The fish population in the perennial reservoirs contains mostly exotic food fish Mozambique tilapia. The area around Yala has hosted several ancient civilisations. Two important pilgrim sites, Sithulpahuwa and Magul Vihara, are situated within the park.