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Yala National Park





Location: Southern and Uva Provinces    Map

Area: 97,881 ha




Description of Yala National Park


Yala National Park is located in Southern and Uva Provinces of Sri Lanka. Yala National Park is the most visited park in the country and second largest reserve by total area. Nature reserve covers an area of 97,881 ha. Day pass to the nature reserve costs 3,500 rupees to enter. Safari to the park will allow to see herds of antelopes, elephants, leopards and other animals frequent in the area. It costs about 6,000 rupees for half day tour and about 10,000 rupees for a full day tour through the park. It is one of those locations where you probably need help from local services if you don't want to get into trouble with local animals.





The area of ​​today's national park was already in the 2nd century BC inhabited by Buddhist monks. It was in the territory of the Kingdom of Ruhuna, which is why the park is officially called Ruhuna National Park. In 1899, areas of today's park were first placed under nature protection. The national park was founded in 1938. The area at that time included Block 1 of Yala West, which is now accessible to day tourists. Additional blocks (2 to 5) were added to Yala West until 1973. In addition, there is a strict nature reserve along the coast in the park. The entrance to the eastern part of the park (Yala East) is in an area that is controversial between Tamils ​​and Sinhalese and is therefore usually not open. There were also conflicts between the civil war parties in the park itself. Bungalows set up for tourists in the park were occupied by the Sinhala military or set on fire by Tamil rebels.

Vegetation and flora
Large parts of the park are reminiscent of an African thorn savannah. The flat landscape is occasionally interrupted by highly outstanding rock formations such as the elephant rocks. The outer parts of the park are dominated by monsoon forests. Two rivers, Kumbukkan Oya and Menik Ganga, feed these forests with water and also form small lakes and ponds. They continue to flow through the plain and flow into the Indian Ocean. The approximately 35 km long coastal strip of the park is densely overgrown, especially at the estuaries with lagoons. There is also a swamp near the coast, the Kumana Mangrave Swamp. After the rainy season, numerous wild flowers and climbing plants bloom. Trees in the park such as the Kumbuk (Terminalia arjuna), Halmilla (Berrya cordiflora) and the Palu tree (Manilkara hexandra) provide protection and food for many animals.

Over 30 species of mammals and over 130 species of birds can be observed in the park. About 30 leopards live in Yala West. This is one of the highest leopard densities in the world. Furthermore, elephants roam the plains of the park and lip bears move through the forests in search of termites. Above all near the coast there are both native bird species as well as migratory birds from northern India, western Asia and Europe in the winter months.





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