The third most visited National Park in the island, Udawalawe is a myriad of interesting flora and fauna due to the presence of the Udawalawe reservoir on the Walawe river, the surrounding marshes, forests and grasslands. Another important habitat for the elephant (a herd of about 250 is believed to be permanently resident) and a recorded number of 12 amphibian species, 21 species of fish, 33 reptiles, 184 species of birds and 43 mammals.
Covering 190 square kilometers (73 square miles), the Sinharaja Forest Reserve is one of two natural world heritage sites in Sri Lanka. A tropical virgin rainforest, Sinharaja is home to a myriad of fauna and flora that is endemic to the island. More than half of Sri Lanka’s 86 species of mammals are found within the confines of this natural treasure, amongst them the elephant, purple-faced langur, the ruddy mongoose, and giant squirrels. Sinharaja is also home to the elusive leopard.
Originally designated as a nature reserve in 1938, Wasgamuwa is one of the island’s protected areas abundant with large herds of elephant .Located in the north of the hill country, Wasgamuwa provides ample opportunities to view elephants, leopards, the sloth bear, sambhur, deer, wild buffalo, the purple faced leaf monkey and the nocturnal slender Loris among other exotic species.
Located between Habarana and Pollonnaruwa, Minneriya is yet another haven for the elephants who migrate from surrounding jungles to enjoy the lush grass fields on the banks of the Minneriya reservoir, during the dry season. Reports of elephant sightings range from a mere 100 to an astounding 700. Endemic monkeys as well as many resident and migratory bird species also can be spotted along with endemic reptiles such as the painted-lip lizard. Among the reptiles that dwell here, are the saltwater crocodile, the Indian python and the water monitor.
Situated on the border of the Yala National Park, Kumana renowned for its avifauna, especially its large flocks of migratory water fowl and wading birds. 255 species of birds have been recorded at the Kumana Bird Sanctuary, with rare species such as the black-necked stork, the lesser adjuant, Eurasian spoonbill and the great thick-knee being breeding inhabitants.
Home to more than half of Sri Lanka’s vertebrates, half of the island’s endemic flowering plants and more than 34% of its endemic trees and shrubs, the Horton Plains is a mist shrouded and breathtaking wonder and ideal for trekking, hiking and camping. Added to the mystery and romance, one could enjoy the splendor of the leopard, the sambhur, the endemic purple-faced langur, the Sri Lanka bush warbler and the yellow-eared bulbul.
Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands comprising of Peak Wilderness Protected Area, the Horton Plains National Park and the Knuckles Conservation Forest has been the most recent addition to the UNESCO World Heritage list, and was designated a natural heritage site in mid 2010. These montane forests, where the land rises to 2,500 metres above sea-level, are home to an extraordinary range of flora and fauna, including several endangered species such as the western-purple-faced langur, the Horton Plains slender loris and the Sri Lankan leopard. The area is home to the Bear Monkey – the highland race of the endemic Purple-faced Leaf Monkey. In the Peak Wilderness a small herd of elephants still roam.