Lovers of tropical flora and fauna on the lookout for that perfect photo opportunity of rare wildlife will delight in the island of Sri Lanka. This paradise isle nestled in the bosom of the Indian Ocean is home to rainforests and wildlife preservation that secret a kind of bio-diversity rivalled by few other countries in Asia. Among its wealth of indigenous fauna, one species that Sri Lanka takes most pride in is its Asian leopard, the largest of its kind in the world which has been identified as being solely endemic to the island.
The Yala National Park of Sri Lanka is considered the best place to get up close and personal with these rare felines. One of the largest wildlife reserves in the nation (spanning a ground area of over a 100,000 hectares over the island’s dry zone in the southeast), this park is home to untold numbers of leopards, most of whom have become habitualized enough to humans and safari jeeps that photographers of any skill level stand a chance of capturing these speedsters in unguarded majesty.
The park falls across two of the island’s provinces and is divided into five blocks, only two of which are open to visitors for various safety reasons. It is because of this inaccessibility that the present number of Asian leopards is largely uncounted; a documentary by Gordon Buchanan recorded thirty of the sub-species in the forests, marking Yala as the world’s largest leopard population to inhabit one area. Despite Yala East being largely off-limits, Yala West makes up for it by its ever-changing landscape montage that stretches from dense jungles to brackish lagoons abounded by the South-eastern sea. We have many More Sri Lanka Vacation Information, Travel Review and Attractions Articles Now Available.
The leopards are not, however, the only fauna worth seeing in the park. Elephants come a close second, as do deer, wild boars and sloth bears. Smaller mammalian species include the black-naped hare, a variety of mongooses, porcupines and grey langurs. Avian life is also abundant, recording over 140 species sighted within the grounds, from great birds of prey such as eagles and hawks to a variety of storks and jungle fowls as well as gorgeously-plumed birds such as Paradise Flycatchers, pink flamingos and strutting peacocks.
Jeep safaris are offered for a full day’s travel as well as morning and afternoon drives. Those on the lookout for leopards stand the best chance to catch them on camera at dawn and dusk. The jeeps provide cover from the elements as well as camouflage, so tourists can travel in relative comfort and safety. It is best to visit the park before the advent of the dry season that peaks around September to October, which frequently sees droughts that necessitates the park to be temporarily closed. We have many More Sri Lanka Vacation Information, Travel Review and Attractions Articles Now Available.