Famous for its dense wildlife and for its population of Asian elephants and leopards, Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the world to see wild animals in their natural environment.
In general, animals in Sri Lanka are treated with respect and are a very important source of income for local tourism because of the safaris organized in the natural reservations all over the country.
A holiday in Sri Lanka should include at least a safari tour in one of the national parks. There are several national parks spread all over the country with very varied flora, fauna and wildlife.
The most wanted animals and the main reason why everybody is going to safari on this island are these incredible creatures:
Sri Lanka has one of the densest leopard population in the world.
Yes! You read correctly! And Yala National Park is the best place where to see leopards in their natural environment.
There are 2 safaris per day in Yala National Park: one in the morning from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and another one in the afternoon from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. To get into the park you have to rent a jeep safari with a driver. Not all drivers speak English. This is the main reason why we recommend you to book a tour with a guide: Yala National Park: Private Safari at Golden Hours is a 4 hours tour with a professional guide who can give you information about animals and the park you visit. It is the best way to explore Yala Sri Lanka!
2. Elephants sacred animals in Sri Lanka
Asian elephants are present all over the country even if in the last years their population has decreased significantly because of human exploitation of the land.
Minneriya National Park is the best place to spot wild elephants in their natural environment. Each year in this park takes place the Great Gathering, meaning that during the dry season hundreds of elephants gather near the water reservoir from the centre of the park to graze and bath in the reservoir.
An afternoon safari is a great opportunity to spot wild elephants in their natural environment! Minneriya National Park Afternoon Safari is a 4 hours tour which gives you the chance to meet these fascinating animals and observe them grazing, bathing or playing.
This water reservoir is the hot spot of the national park. You will have the opportunity to see here dozens of elephants gathered in one place!
3. Peacocks the most fascinating animals in Sri Lanka
Native from India and Sri Lanka, these wonderful birds are considered by Hindu people sacred birds. The females are not that beautiful and colourful as males and because of that, the females were hunted for their meat.
The males fascinate with their colourful tail and when they display it everybody rushes for photos.
These wonderful birds could be seen all over national parks and are one of the most admired birds from the country.
4. Wild water buffalo
Present in almost every park from Sri Lanka, wild water buffalo are massive animals weighting between 700- 1200 kilos. Females are a little smaller but both males and females have horns which are used mostly in defending against predators, especially leopards. Males also use horns for fighting during the mating season.
Wild water buffalo could be found especially around water reservoirs, swamps and waterholes where they use to cool off during hot summer days.
These are very unpredictable animals so be careful when you are around them!
5. Spotted deer
Spotted dear also known as chital or chital deer is native in the Indian subcontinent. It lives in grassland and forest of Sri Lanka, is often spotted during a safari.
The males have branching, three tined antlers up to 100 cm long. Both males and females are reddish-brown with white spots above.
Spotted deer live in herds of up to 100 individuals and they are all very shy and usually avoid human contact. That is why seeing them might be such a challenge sometimes.
These are the 5 most wanted animals in Sri Lanka. Our recommendation is to book 2 safaris while in Sri Lanka to get a good sense about local wildlife. It is preferable to have an afternoon safari for seeing elephants and a morning safari in Yala National Park for leopards.
Prepare your camera and sunglasses and hit the road!