Sri Lanka’s na­tional parks

Leop­ards, ele­phants, whales, birdlife – the Teardrop Isle’s pro­tected spa­ces are an an­i­mal lover’s par­adise. Here the coun­try’s top wildlife ex­pert ex­plains what vis­i­tors will find at the key sites...

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Contents - WORDS GEHAN DE SILVA WIJEYERATNE

From lan­guid leop­ards to stomp­ing ele­phants and breach­ing whales – dis­cover a wealth of an­i­mals in Sri Lanka’s wildest parks

Sri Lanka is one of the best places in Asia for see­ing wildlife. It is also one of the best all-round wildlife des­ti­na­tions in the world thanks to the mix of big game, marine life and var­ied land­scapes. It is a coun­try rich with en­demic wildlife packed into a com­pact area. A very good tourism in­fra­struc­ture helps too.

The is­land’s iso­la­tion from main­land In­dia, the heavy rain­fall of the two di­ag­o­nally blow­ing mon­soons and the coun­try’s wide range of al­ti­tudes, have given Sri Lanka a vari­a­tion in cli­mate and bio­di­ver­sity only nor­mally found across an en­tire con­ti­nent. On top of that, the is­land has be­come known as the eas­i­est place in the world to see the hith­erto elu­sive blue whale, the largest an­i­mal to have lived on the planet.

For more than 2,000 years, swathes of land have been pre­served as sanc­tu­ar­ies by Sri Lankan roy­alty – the Mi­hin­tale re­serve was cre­ated here in the third cen­tury BC. Now there are more than a hun­dred ar­eas of pro­tected land in the coun­try, and here is the pick of the bunch...

Wad­ing won­ders A herd of ele­phants take a dip in the man-made reser­voir at Min­ner­iya NP

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