Yala National Parkis the most visited and second largestnational parkinSri Lanka.
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) andKumana National Parkor 'Yala East' for the adjoining area.
It is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies inSouthern ProvinceandUva Province.
The park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi) and is located
about 300 kilometres (190 mi) fromColombo.
Yala was designated as awildlife
and, along withWilpattuwas
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 ofSri Lankan Elephants,Sri Lankan leopardsand aquatic birds.
are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries in the vicinity of Yala.
Among the largest isLunugamvehera National Park. The park is
situated in thedry semi-arid climatic regionand rain is received mainly during thenortheast
monsoon. Yala hosts a variety ofecosystemsranging from moist monsoon forests to
freshwater and marinewetlands.
It is one of the 70Important 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 leoparddensities in the world.
area around Yala has hosted several ancient civilisations. Two important
pilgrim sites,SithulpahuwaandMagul Vihara, are situated within the
park. The2004 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.