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Updated by Joanna James on May 02, 2024
Headline for Places to Explore Wild Animals in Sri Lanka – Discover the rich wildlife of Sri Lanka!
Joanna James Joanna James
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Places to Explore Wild Animals in Sri Lanka – Discover the rich wildlife of Sri Lanka!

Sri Lanka is a land filled with many natural treasures. You will encounter numerous national parks and forests all across the island. Here are some top and least visited sites to make your trip more special!


Peak Wilderness Sanctuary

The Peak Wilderness Sanctuary covers the areas of Sri Pada Mountain, Horton Plains, Piduruthalagala and Hakgala. The region experiences rainforest-like conditions and is home to a thriving biodiversity of indigenous animals. For instance, the rarest toad – Adenomus kandianus – thought to have been wiped out from the planet, was rediscovered in this area in 2009! The terrain includes cold mountainous weather and high grassy plains towards the Central Province. The humid rainforest stretch runs from the Sabaragamuwa Province and includes, the sacred Sri Pada Mountain, also known as Adams peak.


Sinharaja Rainforest

Sadly it is Sri Lanka's last virgin rainforest and a thriving environment for a host of endemic species. The Sinharaja rainforest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a World Biosphere Reserve. Found between the Southern and Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka, Sinharaja is a haven for many animals like the Sri Lankan leopard, red slender loris, purple-faced langur, the Sri Lankan elephant, plus scores more! Sinharaja is also rich in endemic and rare medicinal herbs. You can find many adventure tours in Sri Lanka in and around Sinharaja. For more information, inquire from tour operators like Walkers Tours for customised trips.


Knuckles Forest Reserve

The Knuckles Mountains, situated in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, is a treasure trove of unique animals and breathtaking scenery. Its name stems from the similarity of a clenched human fist from a distance. A large chunk of it remains strictly sealed off for visitors to maintain the purity of the environment. However, what remains accessible to the public is just as stunning! One can expect diverse terrain of arid evergreen woodlands, grasslands, and magnificent mountains, interspersed with streams and waterfalls. Among the animals living here, you may encounter spotted deer, barking deer, mouse dear, purple-faced leaf monkeys, giant squirrels, wild boars, colourful birds, amphibians and reptiles. Some of the popular hikes include Dothalugala from Deanston; Mini world's end from Deanston; and Nitro Caves from Corbett's Gap.


Gal Oya

Gal Oya National Park borders the Uva and Eastern Provinces, with the nearing city being Ampara. It is among the least visited but best-preserved National Parks on the island. Its unpopularity has served it well in its conservation. One of the main attractions is the reservoir, Senanayake Samudraya, a massive man-made tank. This watering catchment area and the surrounding park environs provide a thriving natural habitat for many animals. You can expect to see migrating birds, reptiles, water buffaloes, Sri Lankan leopards, Sri Lankan sambar deer, crocodiles, toque macaque monkeys, and quite a few raptors. An ancient and sacred Buddhist stupa, Dighavapi, which dates back to the 3rd Century BCE, is also situated within the premises! The site of the stupa is where the Buddha spent a few moments in samadhi when he visited the island on his third and final visit!


Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu is just 30 km from the first capital city of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura. The park's notable features are the naturally created watering holes called 'villus'. These villus are scattered around the park grounds and are a thriving ecosystem for many types of animals. Wildlife living in the park includes leopards, water buffaloes, elephants, sloth bears, sambur deer, fishing cats, spotted deer, crocodiles, monitor lizards and pythons.

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