Wildlife in Sri Lanka

Despite its small size, Sri Lanka is one of the most richly biodiverse regions in South Asia. The island is home to all manner of fascinating wildlife, both big and small. This is in large part due to many national parks and forest reserves spread out through the island – these act as safe havens to some of the most unique and rare creatures on the planet!

The Big Game

The large national parks in Sri Lanka such as Yala and Wilpattu are great places to spot the stars of Sri Lanka’s wilds – namely the leopard and Sri Lankan elephant. In fact, areas like Yala National Park have some of the highest leopard concentrations in the world! The best way to catch a glimpse of these spectacular species is to choose one of the Sri Lanka wildlife tours that cover the large national parks, like the ones offered by Soultrek Sri Lanka.

Forest Dwellers

Sri Lanka’s forest reserves are perhaps the most biodiverse areas in the country; even though these verdant refugees aren’t usually home to the biggest game, the island’s forest denizens are by far the most unique and bizarre. Take for example the sloth bear – a small ursine species with shaggy black hair that specialises in eating insects. Then there’s the endemic red slender lorries, a peculiar primate that patrols the forest canopy at night.


Sri Lanka is without a doubt a bird lover’s paradise, and a bird-watching trip to any of the island’s avifauna hotspots can be extremely rewarding. Some of the notable species found here include the endemic Ceylon magpie – a strikingly colourful bird native to the central hills of Sri Lanka – and the very rare Sri Lankan whistling thrush.

Marine Life

Sri Lanka’s impressive biodiversity isn’t just contained to the forests and parks on land, the calm blue waters that surround the island are home to a menagerie of life that’s just as impressive. The coral reefs of Hikkaduwa, in particular, are home to many different types of reef fish and are regularly visited by various species of the endangered sea turtle. Further out at sea you’ll find the true giants of the ocean – baleen whales such as the blue and humpback whales regularly visit the warm waters of Sri Lanka!