Wilpattu National Park

The Wilpattu National Park is both the largest and the oldest National Park in Sri Lanka. 

It gained popularity due to the high prevalence of Sri Lankan Leopards and is still regarded as one of the best places to go to spot a leopard in its natural habitat. 

Wilpattu National Park Sri Lanka is also home to a diverse range of wildlife which includes the highly threatened Sri Lankan Sloth Bear as well as the Sri Lankan Elephant. 

Wildlife at Wilpattu National Park

Of all the wildlife that can be seen on safari in the Wilpattu National Park two very special animals take pride of place.

One is the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear which is a recognized subspecies of the Sloth Bear. The Sri Lankan Sloth Bear is an omnivorous species that relies heavily on the forest for survival. Sadly the steady decline of forests all over the island has indeed impacted this animal, resulting in the species being noted as highly threatened. It is estimated that as little as a 1000 Sri Lankan Sloth Bears are alive today. 

The Wilpattu National Park may grant you a unique opportunity to observe this animal as it is known to have a population residing within it.
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The other animal of note in Wilpattu is the famed Sri Lankan Leopard. The Sri Lankan Leopard is a subspecies of the Indian Leopard and is currently the largest in Asia. These magnificent big cats can often be spotted lounging beside the villus inside the park, providing for excellent filming and photography opportunities.

Choosing your Wilpattu safari accommodation

As the Wilpattu National Park is the largest National Park in Sri Lanka, there is considerably more ground to cover to get to the heart of where the animals are. Considering this, you definitely want to choose an accommodation option that is closest to the Park with easy access. 

The Big Game Safari Camp Wilpattu National Park is set inside a flat and spacious bush forest adjacent to an ancient man-made lake towards the southern boundary of the Wilpattu National Park. 

This enables you to go on walking trails and night walks around the campsite to experience Wilpattu at its best. 

A closer look at the Wilpattu National Park

Declared a sanctuary in 1905 and upgraded to National Park status in 1938, the Wilpattu National Park is located on the west coast close to the ancient city of Anuradhapura .The jungle is dry zonal and fairly thick, intersected by flood plain lakes. A topographical feature particular to this part of the island is the abundance of villus, or natural lake-like basins which dot the landscape in the Wilpattu National Park. Except for two, all the others contain rainwater and thus are important for resident and migratory water-birds. 

The history of the park is also of interest with ancient ruins having been discovered here. Queen Kuweni (considered to be the mother of the Sinhala race as it is out of her marriage to the first king of Sri Lanka that its people were born) is said to have lived in the place known as Kalli Villu. Historical evidence also points to the fact that Prince Saliya son of King Dutugemunu (an ancient king of Sri Lanka from 161 to 137 BC) lived in Wilpattu over 2,000 years ago. Urns from ancient times have been excavated in Pomparippu which borders the park. Between the villages of Palangaturai and Kollankanatte are the remains of an old harbour. 

Wildlife safari encounters in the Wilpattu National Park

There are 30 recorded species of mammals in the Wilpattu National Park which include the Sri Lankan Elephant, Sri Lankan Leopard, Sri Lankan Sloth Bear, Spotted Deer, Water Buffalo, Sambar, Mongoose, Mouse and Shrew. The Wilpattu National Park is also considering extending its boundaries to include The Dutch Bay and Portugal Bay in order to protect the endangered Dugong.

Bird Life in Wilpattu 

Wetland bird species found in the Wilpattu National Park include the Garganey, Pin tail, Whistling Teal, Spoonbill, White Ibis, Large White Egret, Cattle Egret and Purple Heron. 
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In addition, many species of Terns, Gulls, Owls, Buzzards, Kites and Eagles are also easily spotted. The endemic Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Little Cormorant and the Painted Stork can also be seen on safari.

Reptiles and Amphibians at Wilpattu

The most common reptiles found in Wilpattu are the Monitor Lizard, Mugger Crocodile, Common Cobra, Rat Snake, Indian Python, Pond Turtle and the Soft Shelled Turtle. Most of these reside in the Park’s numerous villus.

Flora at the Wilpattu 
National Park

Many species of flora can be identified in the Wilpattu National Park such as Palu (Manilkara hexandra), Satin (Chloroxylon swietenia), Milla (Vitex altissima), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria), Ebony (Diospyros ebenum) and Wewarna (Alseodaphne semecarpifolia). Three distinct types of vegetation are prominent; salt grass and stunted shrub bordering the coastal area, a coastal strip of approximately three to six miles of monsoon scrub and dense monsoon forests further inland.

Climate in Wilpattu 
National Park

The annual temperature in the Park is around 27°C and its annual rainfall is approximately 1,000 mm. The Wilpattu National Park is situated in the dry zone but strangely does not follow normal dry zone climate patterns. The period between September to December is known as the rainy season while inter-monsoonal rains are experienced between March and April. The period of drought in the Park extends from May to early September.

What is the Best time to visit Wilpattu National Park

Though this National Park can be visited throughout the year, the best time to visit Wilpattu National Park is during the dry season, which runs from February to October. During this time, the park's water sources become scarce, and animals are forced to gather around remaining waterholes, making them easier to spot. The months of September and October are particularly good for wildlife sightings, as the vegetation is relatively dry, and the temperature is not too high. 

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