Yala National Park | Sunday Observer

Yala National Park

25 April, 2021

Yala is a famous wild life park located in Southeast Sri Lanka approximately 300 kilometres or 190 miles from Colombo. It is divided into five blocks. The blocks stretch from inland jungles to the beaches of the Indian Ocean. Yala has a total area of 1268 sq km of scrub, light forest, grassy plains and brackish lagoons.

Yala was named as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and was designated a National Park in 1938. Can you believe that this wild life sanctuary was first used as a hunting ground for the elite under British rule?

There are four gates to the Yala National Park. The gates at Palatupana and Katagamuwa are the entry points to blocks one and two and are said to be the most visited. The two gates at Galge on the Buttala-Kataragama Road, cover blocks three and five.

Yala is a leopard country and it is internationally famous as a leopard hotspot It is said to be home to the world’s largest concentration of leopards-the Sri lanka Panthera pardus kotiya.

If you are travelling on the Buttala-Kataragama Road, watch out for wild animals, especially elephants.

This road literally runs through the park and

Yala boasts of 44 varieties of mammala and 215 bird species. Elephants, sloth bears, sambhurs, jackals, spotted deer, peacocks, and monkeys inhabit the park in large numbers. Both saltwater (estuarine) and mugger crocodiles are found in Yala.

Yala is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. Of the 215 bird species of Yala six are endemic to Sri Lanka. They are the Sri Lanka grey hornbill, Sri Lanka junglefowl, Sri Lanka wood pigeon, crimson-fronted barbet, black-capped bulbul, and brown-capped babbler.

There is much evidence of past civilisations in Yala. A large number of ancient but ruined tanks are evidence of a rich hydraulic and agricultural civilisation dating back to the fifth century BC. Situlpahuwa, which was the home for 12,000 arahants, is situated within the park area along with Magul Vihara, which was built in 87 BC.

Agriculture is said to have flourished in the area during the period of Ruhuna Kingdom.

Yala East or Kumana National Park is famed for bird life. Pilgrims to the Holy Shrine of Kataragama ise a route which goes through Kumana.

Yala was badly affected by the 2004 Tsunami and a Tsunami memorial has been constructed at Patanangala.

The best time to visit Yala is between February and July when the water levels of the park are quite low, bringing animals into the open.