Sri Lanka - Getting to know Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu is the largest of Sri Lanka’s National Parks, and protects a healthy leopard population, as well as elephants, sloth bears, crocs, cobra, pythons and turtles, alongside many bird species including spoonbills and the elegant large white egret. Visitors have a chance of seeing the muntjac or barking deer, and the park's butterfly population is also worth attention.
Declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1905, and elevated to National Park status some 30 years later, Wilpattu protects a massive 131,693 hectares. The leopards here are still being counted - although their numbers may not rival Yala's high density population, Wilpattu's leopards are still world-renowned.
Situated in Sri Lanka's dry zone, Wilpattu is unlike any other wildlife sanctuary on the island. A unique complex of over 50 wetland areas called 'villu', these basins are the park's most prominent topographical feature. 'Villu' are shallow natural lakes that fill with rainwater, and are usually surrounded by open grassy plains amidst the dense scrub jungle that predominates elsewhere.
The villu, with their abundance of water, are topped up during the main rainy season between September and December, when the park enjoys heavy downpours courtesy of the northeast monsoon. They act as natural reservoirs during the annual drought, which lasts from May to September.
Weather in Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu National Park is situated in the dry lowlands of the island’s north-west, and comprises a series of lakes – known as villus – which the park's creatures often depend on. The park's average temperature is 27 degrees centigrade; annual rainfall is 1000mm; and the best time to visit is between February and October.
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