Located on the North-Western coast of the country, Wilpattu is the largest National Park in the island.  It covers an area of 131,693 hectares of dry lowland forest with a unique cluster of water bodies referred to as “Villus” which are naturally formed rain fed lakes. It is said that these villus are also fed by ground water sources and the creation of the villu is due to such ground water reaching the surface of the earth due to pressure created underground. The area was declared a sanctuary in 1905 and was upgraded as a national park on the 25th of February 1938. Wilpattu North Sanctuary declared on 7th November 1947, lies inland from the coast, is contiguous with the park and is located entirely within the Northern Province.

The clusters of Villus or lakes found in the park are flat basin like depressions. Two of these, Lunu Wila and Kokkare Wila are saline. The altitude of the park is more or less even and ranges from sea level to only 152ft at the highest point. While the areas of the park bordering the sea are covered primarily with low scrub and salt grass, 73% of the park is covered in dense forest or scrub and the rest is more open habitat.


The park is 182km from colombo and can be reached by taking the A3 Highway from Colombo to Puttalam and proceeding 42km thereafter on the A12, Puttalam- Anuradapura Highway until you reach the large signboard and turn off to the left. This 8km road takes you to the park office located at Hunuwilagama.



Wilpattu is an excellent park to observe many species of mammals including the top predator of the country the Sri Lankan Leopard Panthera pardus kotiya.  Even though early mornings and late evenings are the best times to observe them, I have had many sightings of leopards during different times of the day including midday.

Many other species of mammals can also be observed here which include the Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Spotted Deer or Chital Axis axis, Barking Deer or Red Muntjac Muntiacus muntjac malabaricus, Indian Gerbil Tatera indica, Grey Langur Semnopithecus priam and the Ruddy Mongoose Herpestes smithii.

A number of mammal species, which are endemic to the island, also can be met with at Wilpattu and they include the Golden Palm Civet Paradoxurus zeylonensis, Northern Mouse Deer or White-spotted Chevrotain Moschiola meminna as well as the north central dry zone subspecies of the endemic Purple-faced Leaf Monkey Semnopithecus vetulus philbricki.

Wilpattu has always been less famed for the sighting of the Asian Elephant Elephas maximus. Even though gatherings of 40-50 animals as well as majestic tuskers have sometimes been recorded in the park during the dry season from July to September, during most of the year the elephants are generally known to frequent the less visited western side of the park including Pomparrippu. However lone bull elephants can be seen throughout the year feeding on the vegetation at the main cluster of frequently visited Villus and herds are generally seen only during the height of the dry season.


Wilpattu is also a paradise for resident as well as migrant species of birds. The commonly seen migrants includes the Indian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi paradisi, Asiatic Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva, Orange-headed Ground Thrush Zoothera citrina, Indian Pitta Pitta brachyura, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Indian Blue Chat Luscinia brunnea and Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura.

The resident bird species include the lowland race babaulti of the endemic Brown-capped Babbler Pellorneum fuscocapillus, the dry zone race siccatus of the  Black-fronted Babbler Rhopocichla atriceps, the race jerdoni of the Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius resident in the dry lowlands, the endemic Ceylon Grey Hornbill Ocyceros gingalensis, the Pompadour Green Pigeon Treron (pompadora)pompadora, Black-capped Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus , at least three colour forms of the Golden-backed Woodpecker Dinopium benghalense jaffnense, Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus and the Forest Eagle-Owl Bubo nipalensis- a species commonly referred to as the “Devil Bird”.

The mixed breeding colony at the Maradanmaduwa Tank is used by many species of waterfowl including Spotted-billed Pelicans Pelecanus philippensis, White Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus, Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia, Openbill Anastomus oscitans as well as Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala. I once counted 23 Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus, the highest number of this species that I had recorded in one locality in the country, at the Maradanmaduwa Tank during the height of the dry season in September 2012.


The most commonly seen reptile in the park is the Land Monitor Varanus bengalensis. However there are many species of interesting reptiles that inhabit the park including the Mugger Crocodile Crocodylus paluster, Star Tortoise Geochelone elegans, Softshell or Flapshell Turtle Lissemys punctata, both subspecies of the hard shell black turtles: Parker’s Black Turtle Melanochelys trijuga parkeri and Spotted Black Turtle Melanochelys trijuga thermalis and many species of snakes such as the Indian Cobra Naja naja, Indian Rat Snake Ptyas mucosa maximus, Indian Rock Python Python molurus molurus, Forsten’s Cat Snake Boiga forsteni, Common Bronze-back Dendrelaphis tristis, Indian Russell’s Viper Daboia russelii russelii, Common Bridal Snake Dryocalamus nympha, Flowery Wolf Snake Lycodon osmanhilli and the endemic Sri Lankan Flying Snake Chrysopelea taprobanica.

 The Common Garden Lizard Calotes versicolor versicolor  is the commonest agamid lizard seen in the park. The Green Garden Lizard Calotes calotes as well as the endemic Painted-lipped Lizard Calotes ceylonensis can be seen less frequently in the well-wooded areas.  The ground dwelling endemic Lowland Kangaroo Lizard Otocryptis nigristigma can be seen among the leaf litter in tall forest areas of the park. The Fan-throated Lizard Sitana ponticeriana is mostly active during the midday heat in the sandy areas of the park.

Wilpattu is an important habitat where the rarely seen Sri Lankan Chameleon Chamaeleo zeylanicus occurs in good numbers.



Wilpatttu offers many delights to the keen lepidopterist as well. Many species of butterflies can be observed in the park at the end of the rainy season. The white butterfly with a concave fore wing margin that is seen gathered in larg numbers close to puddles of water and which is preyed upon by all the Bee-eaters is the Lesser Albatross Appias paulina. The other more colourful species  found in the park include the Blue Mormon Papilio polymnestor, Banded Peacock Papilio crino, Mime Chilasa clytia, Common Jay Graphium doson, Common Gull Cepora nerissa, Monkey Puzzle Rathinda amor, Great Orange Tip Hebomoia glaucippe, Blue Wanderer Pareronia ceylanica, Large Salmon Arab Colotis fausta, Great Eggfly Hypolimnas bolina, Red Spot Duke Dophla evelina, Indian Sunbeam Curetis thetis, Nawab Polyura athamas and the beautiful Tawny Raja Charaxes psaphon.




Dense forest and tall shrubs cover more than 70% of the park. The commonly seen tree and shrub species include Palu Manilkara hexandra, Weera Drypetes sepiaria, Ma-dan Syzygium cumini the fruits of which are favoured by the Sloth Bear, Burutha (Satinwood) Chloroxylon swietenia, Kaluwara (Ebony) Diospyros ebenum, Thimbiri Diospyros malabarica, Lunu Warna Crateva adansonii, Ila Pattha Maba buxifolia, Kora kaha (Blue Mist) Memecylon angustifolium, Radaliya Connarus monocarpus,Tammenna Mischodon zeylanicus as well as Kumbuk Terminalia arjuna  that grows near the water bodies.
The park is also studded with a species of Cycas commonly referred to as Madu Cycas circinalis.




Wild Flowers

The picturesque endless carpets of small white bulbs seen on vast areas around most Villus is a species of Kok Mota Eriocaulon sp and the large patches of beautiful purple flowers are Bim Savan  Dopatrium lobelioides. The other wild flowers seen in the park includes Wellangiriya Capparis zeylanica, Firecracker Flower Crossandra infundibuliformis, Andanahiriya Crotalaria laburnifolia, Ceylon Spider Lily Pancratium Zeylanicum, Pillila Dendrophthoe falcata, Niyangala Gloriosa superba, the endemic Bovitiya Osbeckia zeylanica, and the tiny purple flowers Heen Bim Savan Dopatrium nudicaule.


Wild Orchids

The beautiful Yellow flowers of the Vanda spathulata can be observed between September – January. The flower spikes grow straight up from the top most branches of tall bushes. The flowers of the more easily seen Vanda tessellata can also be found between September and January mostly on the trunks of the Palu trees. I have seen the purple as well as the rare pinkish red flowers of this species in the park. I also found the ground Orchid Habeneria plantaginea referred to as “Narilatha” in bloom at two locations of the park. The spectacular white flowers of the leaf less orchid Vannilla walkarae can also be observed at many localities including Maradanmaduwa, Borupan Wila, Kumbuk wila as well as Thimbiri Wila between May and June.


In this note I have only mentioned a few of the fauna and flora that I have been able to observe during my field trips to Wilpattu National Park as an introduction. Comprehensive lists of species that I have observed so far in the park are included in this site and will be updated periodically when new species are observed.

Locations in Wilpattu National Park


  1. Aalam Villu
  2. Aliwadiya
  3. Amadar Villu
  4. Andachchi Mottai
  5. Andachchi Mottai
  6. Atambagaha Uraniya
  7. Aththa Wila
  8. Avatara Mottai
  9. Boradiya Wala
  10. Boralu Wala
  11. Borupan Wila
  12. Cheena Uttu
  13. Dangaha Uraniya
  14. Dangaha Wewa
  15. Demata Wila
  16. Eluwankulama
  17. Erenapala Mottai
  18. Eriyakulam Pooval
  19. Gal Wala
  20. Galbendinirawiya
  21. Galge Viharaya
  22. Horun Bindapu Wewa
  23. Humbas Wala
  24. Hunuwilagama
  25. Ibba Wala
  26. Ikirigolla wewa
  27. Illanda Mottai
  28. Kalagedi Bokkuwa
  29. Kali Villu
  30. Kandegamuwa
  31. Kanjuran Villu
  32. Karambakulama
  33. Karanchiuttan
  34. Karawalakuda
  35. Katarampu Villu
  36. Kaya Mottai
  37. Kikiliya Villu
  38. Kimbulaketugala
  39. Kohomba wala
  40. Kok Motte
  41. Kokkare Villu
  42. Kolinji Wila
  43. Kollankanatte
  44. Kombansanchi Pooval
  45. Koonvetiyagala Ruins
  46. Kuda Andaragollewa Wewa
  47. Kuda Boralu Wala
  48. Kudapatessa
  49. Kudawilachchiya Wewa
  50. Kuduremale
  51. Kukulkatuwa
  52. Kumbuk Wila
  53. Kumula Villu
  54. Kumutu Villu
  55. Kuruttupandi Villu
  56. Lunu Wila
  57. Madan Gaha Wala
  58. Maduru Odai
  59. Maha Andaragollewa Wewa
  60. Maha Wewa
  61. Mahapatessa
  62. Maila Villu
  63. Maila Wala
  64. Maila Wewa
  65. Mailangan Motte
  66. Makalanmaduwa
  67. Makulu Ganga Uraniya
  68. Mallimadu
  69. Mana Wila
  70. Manikkapola Uttu
  71. Manikrala Uraniya
  72. Maradanmaduwa
  73. Marai Villu
  74. Marikaram Villu
  75. Menikrala Uraniya
  76. Modaneliya
  77. Moolakandavali
  78. Mootakal Aththi Mottai
  79. Moragollawa
  80. Mullikulam
  81. Naduna Wila
  82. Namada Wila
  83. Nawaladi Uttu
  84. Nelum Wila
  85. Ochchappu Kallu
  86. Pacchaodei
  87. Pala Mottai
  88. Pallekandal Wewa
  89. Palugahature
  90. Palukola Wala
  91. Panikkar Villu
  92. Park Entrance
  93. Pattieliya
  94. Paya Mottai
  95. Peddiveli Wewa
  96. Percy Bendi Wewa
  97. Periya Naga Villu
  98. Periya Uppu Villu
  99. Pillmotte
  100. Pomparippu
  101. Sad Suda Kallu
  102. Sengapadu Wila
  103. Sinna Marai Villu
  104. Sinna Uppu Villu
  105. Siyambalaatte Wala
  106. Sudu Muwa Wala
  107. Tala Wila
  108. Thambi Oluwa
  109. Thammanna Wala
  110. Thanga Villu
  111. Thekkama
  112. Thelambugas Wala
  113. Thelbeepu Wewa
  114. Thimbiri Wila
  115. Thora Wila
  116. Udappu Wila
  117. Vilanda Wala
  118. Walas Wala
  119. Wattathaluwa
  120. Weerakutti Villu
  121. Weli Ela
  122. Welvetiya Wala