Yala national parks is considered to be one of the oldest national parks in Sri Lanka and it is recognized as one of the best places to see Sri Lanka leopards and it is the second biggest national park in Sri Lanka with 97880 hectares. Initially it was used as a hunting ground during the British rule in Sri Lanka. As the number of animal drastically reduced due to the hunting, Yala was declared as a national park and became Yala national parks, in 1900 and it was turned to be a safe place for wild life. Yala national parks being the second biggest national park in the island, is divided in to 5 zones. Bio-diversity of the Yala national parks considered to be high and Yala mainly recognized as one of the best places for observing leopards in the world. Other than the Sri Lanka leopards there are number other animals in the park such as Elephants, Deer, Buffalo, Wild boar, Bear, monkey’s etc.
Yala has the reputation being one of the best places to witness leopards (panthera pardus kotiya) in the world with 17 ½ big cats per 100 square kilometers. Naturalists are saying that in the Block 1 of Yala National park could be home to the densest population of leopards in the world, the density of leopards in the block one around a leopard per every 2 sq. kilometers. Thirty adult individual leopards are identified by the naturalists in Yala block 1 other than the cubs. Unlike most other national parks where leopards can be seen in dark Sri Lanka leopards are in move during the day as well. One of the main reasons for great concentration of leopards in Yala is the abundance of games for the animals. One naturalist has said “There is no competition for food. So they are not bothered about protecting a kill. We have noted a number of kills left here and there. Leopard kills feed a number of other animals. They actively keep the prey in check”.
Leopards are most fearful and biggest carnivores in the island. Physical characteristics of leopards are varying depending on the habitat, and leopard in Sri Lanka considered being the biggest leopards in the world, which grows up to seven feet in length and up to 170 pounds. Larger body size of the leopards enables them to prey on larger animals such as full-grown sambhur or big buffalo. The leopard in Sri Lanka is identified as a sub-species of common leopards in the world. Sri Lanka leopard (panthera pardus kotiy) is endemic to the island.
Yala is not only a great place to watch leopards. It is also great to watch dry zone birds and other favorite animals. And of course the bears, the microcosm of biodiversity including crocodiles are on show at the Yala National Park. Yala is also good place to see crocodiles in action, and during the dry season they could be seen feeding and preying on dead buffaloes.
Yala is also considered to be one of the best places to see birds especially from April-October; migrating birds also flock in to the park during this period. Yala is the home for many endemic birds such as Lanka Habam Kukula – Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Lanka Wali Kukula – Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Lanka Mailagoya – Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Lanka Giramalitha -Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Lanka Alu Girawa – Layard’s Parakeet. There are large numbers of seasonal birds also can be seen at Yala national park.
- Leopards – endangered animal species in Sri Lanka
- Wild cats of Sri Lanka
- Endangered wild ani9mals of Sri Lanka
- Poaching – biggest threat for the survival of leopards in Sri Lanka
- The world’s leopards population