Feature Story: The wildlife of Sri Lanka is as diverse as the island itself, ranging from elephants and leopards to marine life and vast numbers of different birds, and Sri Lanka is now one of the best places in the world to see whales, including the mighty blue whales.
With the country designated for wildlife protection, it’s easy to get a taste of Sri Lankan wildlife: safari parks and sanctuaries offer the easiest way to see animals in their natural habitat, especially in the southern and central zones. Stay alert to see the endangered leopard; take your time watching the elephants eating and washing in a tank or lagoon, or stroll quietly along the western and southern coastal beaches near marine tortoises as they lay their eggs.
Birds of Sri Lanka
Birdwatching in Sri Lanka is a delight for birders. The island’s isolation and tropical climate are responsible for attracting an incredibly diverse range of birds of more than 400 species. Almost 200 migrant species descent on the country each year having flown south for the winter, and there are 33 endemic birds in Sri Lanka. For more information, see our page on birdwatching in Sri Lanka.
102 terrestrial mammals have so far been discovered on the island. 90 of them are indigenous species, of which 14 are endemic to Sri Lanka. Mammals are extensively distributed in the country due to the diverse climate, vegetation, altitude and geographic history of the island. Many travellers come to Sri Lanka hoping to see elephants, the island’s most iconic animal – visit one of the national parks and see them moving in herds in the wild, or visit the Millennium Elephant Foundation to learn more about the role elephants play in Sri Lankan culture. Sri Lanka’s elusive leopard can be seen at many national parks, most notably Yala National Park, which has the highest population density of leopards in the world. Go to tranquil Wilpattu for a sloth bear sighting, or see toque macaque, grey langur and purple-faced leaf monkeys when you meet the monkeys of Polonnaruwa.
Sri Lanka’s oceans also boast a wide range of spectacular creatures, including whales and dolphins, dugongs, sting rays, eels, whale sharks and five species of endangered marine turtle, as well as various colourful tropical fish and intricate, mesmerising corals. Go on a whale and dolphin watching expedition in search of the mighty blue whale, or watch as a turtle lays its eggs in the sand before returning to the sea.
Why not try a wildlife holiday in Sri Lanka? The island’s astonishing diversity of landscape and the incredible range of animals that have made their home here means that there are wildlife events happening all year round. Red Dot have put together several wildlife-focused itineraries which highlight Sri Lanka’s main wildlife attractions and take you to some of the most beautiful areas of the island. These itineraries can of course be altered in any way that you wish, and our knowledgeable sales consultants will be only too happy to advise you on creating the ultimate Sri Lanka wildlife holiday.
National Parks in Sri Lanka:
National parks are allowed for public to see & study wildlife. There are 22 National Parks declared in Sri Lanka. Introduce rules & regulations in order to ensure the maximum protection of wildlife & habitats within National parks.
1. Ruhuna (yala)
4. Yala East (Kumana)
6. Lahugala Kithulana
7. Maduru Oya
11. Horton plains
17. Pegion Island
23. Madu Road
25. Adam’s Bridge
Humanity is weaved into “the rich tapestry of life that makes up our world’s biological diversity”, said Secretary-General António Guterres. “All human civilizations have been, and continue to be, built on the use of wild and cultivated species of flora and fauna, from the food we eat, to the air we breathe”.
And yet, today, close to a quarter of all species on the planet are in danger of becoming extinct in the next few decades.
“It seems that humanity has forgotten just how much we need nature for our survival and well-being”, he bemoaned.
As the world population and its needs continue to grow, people insist on exploiting natural resources – including wild plants and animals and their habitats – “in an unsustainable manner”, said Mr. Guterres.
He pointed out that in its 2019 Global Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) highlighted how the current global rate of species extinction is not only rampant, but accelerating at a rate that is “tens to hundreds of times higher” than before human beings walked the earth.
“By overexploiting wildlife”, the UN chief said, “habitats and ecosystems, humanity is endangering both itself and the survival of countless species of wild plants and animals”.
On this World Wildlife Day, Mr. Guterres urged everyone to “remind ourselves of our duty to preserve and sustainably use the vast variety of life on the planet”.
“A world of thriving biodiversity provides the foundation we need to achieve our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of a world of dignity and opportunity for all people on a healthy planet”, concluded the Secretary-General.