Wilpattu National Park is the largest national park in Sri Lanka and is world renowned for its Leopard population! It is also one of the oldest, providing a unique scenery of a complex of natural shallow sand rimmed lakes called â€˜Willusâ€™. The Willus are surrounded by grassy plains, set within thick scrub jungle. The vast, ancient forest is composed of a remarkable variety of flora and is home to a large diversity of fauna.
The majority of the park is covered with dense forest. Even though it is set within the dry zone, most areas of Wilpattu are rather cool due to the shade provided by the domination of tree species such as Palu, Weera, Satin and Ebony. The park boasts the highest mammalian diversity and population in the country with thirty one mammal species found in the area, including Elephants, Sloth Bears, Water Buffalo and Spotted Deer. The Muntjac Deer are more readily seen in Wilpattu than any other national park in Sri Lanka! Among the reptile species, the most common are the Mugger Crocodile, Common Cobra, Indian Python, Star Tortoise and the Soft-shelled Turtle.
The Willus of Wilpattu sustain abundant bird life with endemic species being the Ceylon Junglefowl, Brown – capped Babbler, Ceylon Woodshrike and Black-capped Bulbul in riverine habitats. Water birds include the Painted Stalk, Openbill, Little Cormorants, the Pintail, Garganey, Spoonbill and the Whistling Teal. Many birds of prey can also be seen gliding overhead, including Owls, Eagles and Kites. Butterflies species recorded in the area include the Great Eggfly, Great Orange Tip, Glad-eye Bushbrown, Blue Mormon, Common Mormon, Common Rose and Crimson Rose.