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The Fauna

While elephants are one of the primary attractions in Yala, seen in small and large herds, what is more appealing here is the overall mood of the undisturbed jungle with the large herds of spotted Deer.
For those who are sharp eyed to observe, many of the endemic Muntjac or Barking Deer are also present here. Monkeys, the pinkish Rhesus and the grey-faced Langur Monkey, live and play on the tree tops and the ground below. Wild Buffalo and Wild Boar could give you a good surprise and a great picture, while sight of a leopard sunning itself or drinking at a water hole could be a memorable experience.

As dusk gathers, there is every chance of seeing the Ceylon Sloth Bear scampering with its young on its back. You are also bound to wait for the Python at Yala to cross the road stopping your safari at still point and the water holes will surprise you with its inhabitants of a whole colony of Crocs, some of the biggest in the Country. The Peacock is easily the most famous and common of the birds at Yala.

An excellent 'Natural World' wildlife documentary was filmed here featuring the 'Leopards of Yala', by Gordon Buchanan. One of the main findings of the film was that 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 mating dance of the male, with its colourful plumes fully spread, is a photographer's delight and add to the mood and feel of nature. The Painted stork, many varieties of heron, the spoonbill, the bee-eater, many colorful parrots and parakeets, the hornbill, kingfisher and wood-pecker and hoopoe are all birds that can be seen by the observant in the jungles of Sri Lanka.

The Flora

Yala National Park is situated in the kingdom of Ruhuna which had an advanced civilization by evidence of the remains of 'dagabas' and reservoirs built to irrigate large extents of cultivable land.

Several irrigation tanks are still visible, together with natural water holes. These sources of water are helpful for the survival of the wildlife.

Several natural rock pools contain water throughout the year.

In the southeast, the Park is bounded by the sea. Un-spoilt natural beaches and sand dunes provide a beautiful environment. This is surely one of the most spectacular seascapes of Sri Lanka. Far out at sea are two lighthouses which are named as the great and little basses. The extensive parklands that surround the lagoons offer visitors superb locations for viewing animals and bird life.

The Terrain

Yala West consists of scrub jungle, brackish lagoons and stunning rock monoliths scattered throughout the park with its eastern edge is bounded by the South East coast.

The terrain is varied flat plains alternating with rocky outcrops. The vegetation ranges from open parkland to dense jungle. Water holes, small lakes, lagoons and streams provide water for the animals and birds. The enormous rocky outcrops, a distinctive feature in the scrub land, provide vantage points to enjoy the beautiful dry-zone landscape of the park.

The landscape of Block 1 runs over a spectrum of terrain: dense jungle, open savannah, riverine woodland, rock pools, streams, freshwater lakes & a long coastline which curves around Sri Lanka's southeast coast. Pristine natural beaches & high sand dunes of the coast & add a novel dimension to the considerable wildlife nurtured by the range of habitats.

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