Sri Lanka Wildlife


Sri Lanka’s wildlife is as varied as the island itself, ranging from elephants and leopards to egg-laying turtles and a huge variety of birds. With 12 per cent of the country designated for wildlife protection it is easy to get a taste of Sri Lankan wildlife. Safari parks and sanctuaries, particularly in the southern and central zones, offer the easiest way to see animals in their natural habitat. Stay alert for a sighting of the endangered leopard; take your time as you watch the elephants feeding and washing in a tank or lagoon; or walk quietly near to the turtles until they stop to lay their eggs.
Sri Lanka Location Map
Don’t Miss
Minneriya Elephant gathering from Jul-Oct
Feeding time for Pinnawela’s elephant orphans
The elusive Leopard in Yala National Park
Wasgamuwa’s Sloth Bear
Touque, Purple-faced Leaf Monkey and Grey Langers
Samber Deer, Otter and Leopard at the Horton Plains
Mixed Species feeding flocks of Sinharaja
The Greater Flamingos in Bundala
Sinharaja’s butterflies
Dragonflies, butterflies and water birds of Muthurajawella
Migratory & wetland in Annaiwillundawa wetlands
Yala’s Mugger Crocodiles basking in the sun
Aggressive salt-water Crocodile in Bundala
The endangered Marine Turtles of Sri Lanka

Holiday Itineraries
Red Dot strives always to support conservation efforts and seeks to plan itineraries with this in mind. We have put together several itineraries that take you across the island's diverse landscapes and its natural wilderness in search of endemic as well as migrant bird species, numerous species of reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.

Sri Lanka Elephant Pilgrimage:  Our Sri Lanka Elephant Pilgrimage has been designed for nature-loving families. The Asian elephant has been an important part of Sri Lanka's culture and ecology for thousands of years (10 per cent of the world's elephant population is concentrated here). This fascinating animal provides the central focus of this holiday, but there is plenty more packed in besides. (More)

Sri Lanka Nature Trek:
  This Sri Lanka Nature Trek is specially designed for ramblers, nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. We've hunted down eco-retreats and hotels in the most picturesque locations and created an itinerary that takes you to the cultural triangle, the impressive Hunnas Giriya Mountains, the pristine tea-growing highlands, Yala's rolling plains and the virgin rainforests of Sinharaja. (More)

Wildlife & Beach Explorer:  This journey let's you experience some of Sri Lanka's best wildlife locations and the south coast beaches in luxurious comfort. An adventurous safari through the wilderness ends with five days of relaxation on the beautiful south coast beaches of Tangalle.  We have selected secluded private villas, eco-retreats, and luxury camping in the wilderness to ensure a memorable journey. (More)

Parks & Reserves
Sri Lanka became the first country to set up a flora and fauna sanctuary at Mihintale in the 3rd century BC. At the national parks, such as Uda Walawe – the closest rival to an African gamepark with its herds of elephants – Yala and Bundala, you need a permit to see the protected wildlife. The nature reserves of Sinharaja and Minneriya and up to fifty other sanctuaries also offer animal protection and treasured experiences. (More)
Photo Gallery
Video Gallery


Birds of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a birder’s delight. The island’s isolation and a tropical climate are responsible for the amazingly diverse bird life that attracts more than 400 species. Almost 200 migrant species descend on the country having flown south for the winter. Within a fortnight’s trip you can easily see all 33 endemic birds along with at least 200 species. Join us in this birdwatcher’s paradise.  (More)

Butterflies of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has 245 species of Butterflies recorded in the island of which this 21 are endemic, ranging from the largest -- the Ceylon Birdwing with the wing span ranging from 95 to 135mm – to the smallest -- the Grass Jewel, which measures only 8-13mm.  The migration in April/May of the Lemon Emigrants to the top of the sacred Adam’s Peak, also known as `butterfly mountain’, is an awe- inspiring experience.  It is commonly believed that these butterflies travel up hill along with the pilgrims to pay homage to Lord Buddha, who preached about kindness to all animals. Scientists put it down to the changing of seasons and the mating season.(More)

Dragonflies of Sri Lanka
Dragonfly watching in Sri Lanka is getting increasingly popular among nature lovers.   Sri Lanka has 117 species of dragonflies and damselflies and of these a staggering 53 species are endemic to the island, 20 of them under threat. (More)

Sri Lanka’s Amphibians & Reptiles
Sri Lanka is one of the global ‘hotspots’ for high biodiversity and this is especially relevant to Amphibians. New species of frogs and lizards are still being discovered in the small protected forests. Both the wet and dry zones of the country consist of many species of reptiles including snakes, crocodiles, lizards, turtles & terrapins. (More)

Mammals of Sri Lanka
Unless you spot a rare leopard, the sight of a wild elephant will probably be the highlight of a journey into Sri Lanka’s wilderness. The elephant population has dropped from 20,000 to 3,500 since the 1800s, but the level has stabilised with the establishment of corridors, national parks, reserves and the charming elephant orphanages at Pinnawala and Uda Walawe. Whether seeing them in the wild or with their mahouts (keepers), the elephants leave a lasting impression. (More)

General info

Sri Lanka’s wildlife & wilderness:  Sri Lanka is an all-year destination for wildlife making this a nature lover’s dream escape. If you visit our wildlife calendar you will see that there is a wildlife spectacle in this small island all year around. Though the island does receive rain fall from two monsoons, it does not affect the whole of the island at the same time. Sri Lanka has a forest cover of approximately 14 per cent, although this is diminishing due to human encroachment.


The Butterflies of Ceylon by Bernard D’Abrera (1992). Wildlife Heritage Trust, Colombo. 224 pages.

A Selection of Butterflies of Sri Lanka by John & Judy Banks (1985). Lake House Investments, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The Butterflies of Sri Lanka by Aritha & Aresha Wickramanayake (2007).

Gehan’s Photo Booklets – Butterflies of Sri Lanka & Southern India by Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne. A5 size, 32 pages (2005).

Butterflies of Sri Lanka for Children by Sriyani Mithapala (2006). Colombo. 152 pages.  ISBN: 955-99378-0-4.

The 2007 Red List of Threatened Fauna and Flora on Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka (2007).

IUCN Sri Lanka & Ministry of Environment & Natural Resources. 148 pages. ISBN: 978-955-8177-63-1.

A Photographic Guide to the Snakes and other Retiles of Sri Lanka by Indraneil Das and Anslem de Silva.

New Holland (UK) 2005.

The Amphibian Fauna of Sri Lanka by Sushil K. Dutt & Kelu Manamendra-Archchi. Wildlife Heritage Trust of Sri Lanka 1996.

A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka by Silva Wijeyeratne, Deepal Warakagoda & T.S.U De Zylva (2000). New Holland (UK). Revised edition (2008).

A Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka by John Harrison & Tim Worfolk. Oxford University Press (1999).

A Guide to the Birds of Ceylon by G.M Henry. Third revised edition. Oxford University Press, India.

Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide by P.C Rasmussan & J.C. Anderton. 2 Volumes. (2005). Lynx Edition, Barcelona.

The Dragonflies of Sri Lanka by T. De Fonseka (2000). Wildlife Heritage Trust. Colombo. 304 pages. ISBN 955-9114-19-0.

Gehan’s Photo Guide – Dragonflies of Sri Lanka by M. Bedjanic, Karen Conniff & Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne (2007). Jetwing Eco Holidays. Colombo. ISBN 978-955-1079-15-4.

Gehan’s Photo Booklets – Dragonflies of Sri Lanka & Southern India. A5 size, 42 plates (2006).

The 2007 Red List of Threatened Fauna and Flora on Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka (2007). IUCN Sri Lanka & Ministry of Environment & Natural Resources. 148 pages. ISBN: 978-955-8177-63-1.

Media Reviews
'The red list – charting Sri Lanka's threatened species', by Andrew Kittle, Travel Sri Lanka, Vol 5 No 4

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