Sri Lanka is a tropical island separated from India by the Palk Straits. The island is known for its gorgeous beaches and extensive tropical forests. The country is a global biodiversity hotspot and is home to an amazing variety of birds and animals. In fact, over twenty percent of the flowering plants and mammals found here are endemic to the island. In total there are twenty four wildlife reserves, with Yala National Park probably being the most popular among them. The large expanses of untouched forests and the sheer diversity of the local flora and fauna makes Sri Lanka the ideal place for ecotourism.
For such a small island, Sri Lanka has quite a large number of national parks and reserves. The parks are distributed throughout the island and each is home to different species. The Wilpattu Wildlife Reserve is the largest National Park, spanning well over 130,000 hectares, and is also one of the oldest in the country. It is a highly unique place due to the number of ‘willus’ found here. A ‘willus’ is a natural depression that fills up with rainwater and over sixty of them are found inside the park grounds. The availability of so much water makes the park the ideal home for a massive population of water birds.
Among the bird species found here are the Sri Lankan Junglefowl, the painted stork, little cormorant, purple heron, white egret, cattle egret as well as several species of owls, eagles and buzzards. Also found here are a variety of reptiles such as the common cobra, the Indian python and the Mugger crocodile, and mammals like the Sambhur, sloth bear, elephants, water buffalo and leopards. The park is situated on the island’s northwest coast, just thirty kilometres west of the historic city of Anuradhapura.
While Wipattu Wildlife Reserve is only 186 kilometres from Colombo, local public transport can make Sri Lanka travel a bit daunting for the less adventurous. It would be more convenient to take Sri Lanka tours arranged by an agency, like Jetwing Travels, which will ensure that foreigners continue with their sightseeing with a minimal of hassle.