Wildlife of Sri Lanka

The magical island Sri Lanka which is otherwise known as the Wonder of Asia boasts of possessing a high number of endemic species of animals and plants found nowhere else in the globe. The country is known to be one of the world’s top five hotspots for biodiversity and the wildlife in Sri Lanka is a testament to its biodiversity. The country has around 22 national parks which are packed with fabulous wildlife such as lots of endemic plants as well as animals such as leopards, elephants, crocodiles, sloth bears, and lots of beautiful birds and butterflies. On top of that, the marine life of Sri Lanka, the whales, dolphins, and different types of fish will take one’s breath away.

Keep reading to uncover the truth about the wildlife of Sri Lanka.

Wildlife to see in Sri Lanka

elephants in Sri Lanka


All those who are on a holiday to Sri Lanka wish to see the Asian elephants. The Sri Lankan elephant is native to Sri Lanka and one of three recognized subspecies of the Asian elephant. If you want to spot Sri Lankan elephants head on to Udawalawe National Park, Yala National Park, Lunugamvehera National Park, Wilpattu National Park, or Minneriya National Park. Sri Lanka has the highest density of elephants in Asia. Seeing them in the wild in their natural habitat gives you a better experience than seeing them in elephant orphanages where you can get closer to those elephants and enjoy riding or feeding them While you can see elephants year-round in Udawalawe , the famous elephant gathering in Minneriya occurs during August to September.

leopard in Sri Lanka


The Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) is a leopard subspecies native to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan leopard has a tawny or rusty yellow coat with dark spots and close-set rosettes. If you are particular about seeing leopards, there is no better place than Yala national park which has the highest leopard density. Visit Yala in the dry season from May to October, and you will spot this beautiful big cat because the vegetation is less dense during this time.


There are five different types of turtle in Sri Lanka: Leatherback, Olive Ridley, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, and Green. Of these, the Green turtle is the most common while the leatherbacks are among the rarest. The sea turtles, despite challenges to their existence, are thriving due to the patronage of many turtle conservation projects such as the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project (north of Galle) or Turtle Watch Rekawa (near Tangalle). Green turtles nest all year round in Sri Lanka, with the highest number reported in Kosgoda and Rekawa. The best time to see them nest is between January and March. Another of the most common turtles seen in Sri Lanka is the Olive Ridley which shuffles in large numbers during their nesting seasons between September and November and November and January respectively.

Sloth Bear

The Sri Lankan Sloth Bear is a subspecies of the Sloth Bear which is found mainly in lowland dry forests on the island of Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Sloth Bear has thick shaggy fur that is black colored. They can often be sighted amongst the fruit trees of Yala National Park. There is also a large population of them in the Wilpattu National Park. Plan your visit in June or July, when Yala’s fruit trees are in full bloom and the sloth bears come out to enjoy the fruits.


The sambar is a type of deer found in various countries across Asia with a shaggy coat and long, rugged antlers. The Sri Lankan subspecies of sambar are among the largest in the world. They can often be found in the Horton Plains as well as Yala National Park. They are year-round animals, but easy to spot them during the dry season as they search for water sources.

Red Slender Loris

This little, cute animal is on the brink of extinction and is harder to spot in the wild, the reason being they are nocturnal. Yala National Park is the best place to witness these amazing animals. There is no particular season when you can spot these animals, all you need to do is keep your eyes open during a night safari.

Blue Whales

It is a delight to see these gigantic animals known as the king of the ocean. No other place is better than Sri Lanka to see these marvelous animals. You can spot blue whales off Sri Lanka's northeast coast near Trincomalee or in the southern waters by Mirissa. From June to October whale watching is best off Trincomalee, then from November to April on the south coast in Mirissa is the best time to watch them.


Sri Lanka has its very own, unique species of birds including magpies, owls, hornbills, pigeons, and parrots, and plenty of places to spot them all. All of the national parks in the country house a variety of birds but those considered to be the best for bird-watching are Sinharaja, Bundala, Yala, and Udawalawe national parks and the Horton Plains. The best time for birdwatching is between November and April when there will be plenty of migrant species to look out for.

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