The great diversity of Sri Lankan wildlife makes this small island nestled in the heart of the Indian Ocean, the perfect destination for animal lovers, photographers and interested travellers. With more than 15 national parks, Sri Lanka is a nature-lover’s dream! Here are the animals in Sri Lanka that you can expect to see on your holidays:
With more than 400 different bird species, Sri Lanka is a paradise for bird lovers. The most numerous are the crows, with their shiny black robes and dark gray beaks. You will recognize them by their powerful cry. Other species such as the heron can be observed near rice fields, and egrets can be seen playing on the backs of buffaloes. Bird lovers should head to the Sinharaja Forest Reserve or Bundala National Park where many endemic bird species can be seen. Don’t forget to bring a pair of binoculars to catch these beautiful animals in Sri Lanka up close!
This magnificent pheasant, native to India and Sri Lanka, is one of the most sacred animals in Sri Lanka – particularly for Hindus. It is revered and associated with fertility while its dance symbolizes the awakening of nature and the approach of the rain. It is believed that its bright blue and green plumage, which only males sport, can even keep snakes away. When mating, females choose their male according to the size, color and quality of their plumage.
The two most common species of monkeys in Sri Lanka are the tufted grey langur and the toque macaque. Grey langurs generally live in troops in the jungle as well as in villages. They can easily be spotted around temples, scouring for flowers or fruits. They are not aggressive compared to the toque macaque but can be very cunning. You will surely encounter these two species of animals in Sri Lanka. This animal is sacred in Hinduism and represents the monkey-god Hanuman.
A majestic and sacred animal, the Asian elephant is the largest of the land animals in Sri Lanka. Wild elephants can be found in national parks, along roadsides and near wetlands, while domesticated elephants are used in the logging industry to carry tree trunks and participate in festivals and weddings. Be careful, these animals can be unpredictable, do not approach a wild elephant too closely. Wild elephants are numerous and you can observe huts in the trees, above the rice fields, built by farmers to protect themselves in case of the arrival of elephants. You can admire them in herds during a safari in Yala National Parks, Uda Walawe, Gal Oya, Wilpattu and Minneriya.
Sea turtles are numerous and well protected in Sri Lanka. During nesting season, you have the opportunity to see them nesting at night on the beaches of the south coast of the island, in Tangalle for example. On the east coast of Sri Lanka, around Pigeon Island, you can easily spot turtles in the clear waters, swimming around the coral reefs – one of the most elegant animals in Sri Lanka.
One of Sri Lanka's most breathtaking activities is to go whale-watching. The largest animal in Sri Lanka and on the planet, the blue whale is more than thirty meters long and attracts travellers looking for an impressive show. Their size and their beauty draw hundreds of travellers to Sri Lanka looking to see these elegant animals as well as the graceful dolphins. During the dry season, from January to April, it is possible to observe blue whales off the coast of Mirissa. For dolphins, one of the most authentic excursions takes place in Kalpitiya, north of Colombo.