යාල ජාතික වනෝද්‍යානය – Yala National Park

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Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka, bordering the Indian Ocean. The park consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public, and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names such as, Ruhuna National Park (Block 1), and Kumana National Park or ‘Yala East’ for the adjoining area. It is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. The park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi) and is located about 300 kilometres (190 mi) from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants, Sri Lankan leopards and aquatic birds.

Yala National Park Entrance

There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries in the vicinity of Yala. Among the largest is Lunugamvehera National Park. The park is situated in the dry semi-arid climatic region and rain is received mainly during the northeast monsoon. Yala hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. It is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. Yala harbours 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. The number of mammals that has been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world.

SriLankan leopard or Panther (panthera pardus), The only big cat in Sri Lanka.
Beautiful Bird Watching
Magnificient Peacock Dance
Purple-faced Langur (presbytis senex)
Is only found in Sri Lanka. A long-tailed, long-legged monkey about 125cm in length (nearly half of it tail) it has a dark coat contrasting with an almost white head. Hair on the head grows long to from swept back whiskers, but the face itself is almost black. Usually seen in groups of a dozen or so, it lives mainly in the dense, damp mountain forest like Yala national park.
Chital (or spotted) Deer (axis axis)
Only about 90 cm tall, is seen in herds of 20 or so in grassy areas of the National park. The bright rufous coat spotted with white is unmistakable. The stags carry antlers with three tines.

The area around Yala has hosted several ancient civilizations. Two important pilgrim sites, Sithulpahuwa and Magul Vihara, are situated within the park. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami caused severe damage on the Yala National Park and 250 people died in its vicinity. The number of visitors has been on the rise since 2009, after the security situation in the park improved.

Yala the Pride of Nation