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.