Yala National Park
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.Being located in one of the dry regions of Sri Lanka, the climate of the National Park is usually hot and dry. The area receives its annual rainfall during the north east monsoon from November to January, and unpredictable inter-monsoonal rains in March/April and September.In 1938, Yala Game Sanctuary was declared as a National Park, only with block I and other blocks were included later. it Varies from open parkland to dense jungle on the plains. The scrub land is particularly distinctive with its enormous rocky outcrops, or inselbergs. There are also several streams, small lakes & brackish lagoons.
The ocean to the east has wide beaches & high sand dunes. The varied terrain supports an extraordinary range of wildlife & vegetation.The park’s dry-zone landscape is strikingly beautiful, especially when viewed from the vantage points offered by the curious rock outcrops which dot the park. From these you can look out over a seemingly endless expanse of low scrub & trees dotted with lakes next to the dune – covered coast line, particularly magical from Situlpahuwa monastic settlement at Yala’s northern end.In the southeast, the Park is bounded by the sea. Unspoilt 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 best period to see the animals is during the January to May dry season, when animals cluster around water sources in multi-species groups. Dawn & dusk are the best times of day to witness animals.
Flora – Yala’s vegetation mostly consists of secondary forest containing semi-arid thorn bush. Along the coast this vegetation is either stunted or prostrate. Small patches of mangrove appear along the coastal lagoons. However, this secondary forest is interspersed with pockets of fairly dense forest characterised by such species as Palu , Weera, Malitthan , Ehal, Divul and Kohomba . Thorny scrubland is dominated by Eraminia and Andara . Sonneratia, Acanthus, Rhizopora and Lumnitzera species dominate the mangrove vegetation.
Fauna – All the big game mammals of the country are found within the park. Elephant, Leopard, sloth bear, Spotted Dear, Wild Boar and sambhur. Apart from them small mammals such as Black naped hare, Grey, Ruddy & Striped necked mongoose, Grey Langur & porcupine are common small mammals.With 35 individual leopards seen in Block 1, Yala West has one of the world’s densest leopard populations. Panthera pardus kotiya, the subspecies you may well see, is unique to Sri Lanka. The best time to see leopard is February to July, when the water level of the park is low.Yala is home to a variety of reptiles, such as the Sri Lanka swamp crocodile, which is abundant in the abandoned tanks. The Sri Lanka estuarine crocodile is to be found in and near the rivers, and the water monitor or kabaragoya a lizard often 2 metres in length, is found everywhere. Some of the venomous snakes present are the cobra and the Russell’s viperBird life. There are about 130 species overall. These birds include white-winged black terns, curlews, pintails, barbets, hoopers, Malabar pied hornbills, orioles, Ceylon shamas, & paradise flycatchers, though pea & jungle fowl are the most frequently seen.The expanses of wetlands attract serpent – eagle, eastern grey heron, painted stork. White-fowl arrive each winter to augment the resident population. Among the common aquatic birds are various storks, egrets, pelicans, sandpipers, herons, ibises, kingfishers & the magnificent Indian darter. With a little bit of luck, you may also spot the rare black-necked stork near Buttawa on the coast.