Yala National Park

Declared on 1st March, 1938, Ruhunu National Park (RNP) better known as Yala National Park is perhaps the most popular and visited national park in Sri Lanka and is well known for its rich ecological and archaeological heritage. The park is divided in to five blocks covering 130,000 hectares of land and tourism is allowed only in Block I, while visitors are allowed to visit Block II after obtaining special permission at the park entrance. Block I is also famous for its wide range of wildlife, including the highest density of leopards in the country.

Located in the dry zone, Yals’s heaviest rains comes with the northeast monsoon in October -December. The onset of the monsoon brings about a lushness which decorates it with a myriad of striking wildflowers adding scenic value to the landscape. Rocky outcrops are common in the park and rise above the jungle, often used by its leopards.  The 22 mile long beach that forms the southern border of RNP is a nesting ground for five species of turtles. The constantly changing sand dunes can get as high as 25m and the stunted vegetation on them is evidence of the harsh conditions afoot.

Archaeological ruins in RNP date back to the golden era of Sinhala civilization. They date back to the Kingdom of Ruhuna in 1st century BC. Large tanks like Buttuwa, Gonagala, Bambawa and Banduwewa were built by kings to store water for agricultural purposes. These tanks are now serve Yala’s wild inhabitants Shrines such as Situlpahuwa, Magulmahaviharaya, and Akasachithya are located in the park and are evidence of the existence of Buddhism during the Ruhunu Kingdom.

Park harbor a rich floristic assemblage representative of the country’s dry zone. Dry evergreen forests contain commercially valuable hardwood timber species such as, Burutha, Kaluwara and Maliththan. Large Kumbuk trees are found along the banks of Menik River. Wild fruit trees such as Palu, Weera and Siyambala are common throughout park and are a valuable source of food for many faunal species, especially the Sloth Bear.

Yala national park is one of another Wide range of wildlife, including wild elephants and leopards makes the park most preferred among the wildlife enthusiasts, who wish to observe a variety of wild animals within a short period of time. A variety of Birds, crocodiles and deer are common sight.

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