Leopard watching in Sri Lanka is a favourite activity that many tourists love to enjoy while visiting the island on a holiday. This subspecies of leopard that are considered as endangered are observed well in Sri Lanka while they share their habitat with carnivores animals such as hyenas. According to research, the Yala National Park contains the highest density of Panthera pardus kotiya (a subspecies of leopard native to Sri Lanka) in the world. Wilpattu Park and many other enclosed forest reserves are believed to contain a small population of leopards as well.
There are safari tours such as leopard trails that have been introduced for locals as well as tourists to enjoy a glimpse of these beautiful spotted creatures. You can book tour packages through Lakpura Travels which consists of accommodation and a safari tour which will leave you in awe of the island. There are camping sites that offer standard and luxury camping facilities while you can enjoy exploring these exotic locations with the assistance of a park ranger/ tour guide in enclosed off road vehicles.
It is advised that the best times to witness these leopards are early in the morning and again when dusk falls. Leopards have been observed over the years especially in the Yala National Park and a point to remember is that the male leopards especially who are found in Yala are very confident animals and they are often seen walking the road tracks even during day time. There have been instances where there are young male leopards that are found walking along or crossing these tracks without any fear of the jeep or the people who are in sight. This rare occasion is a fine opportunity for photography enthusiasts. Since only 1/6th of the park in open to visitors, spotting a leopard might be difficult but if you do, it will be one of the most memorable
points of your safari.
In addition to the leopard, these safaris will bring you in close contact with many other animals such as elephants, spotted deer, sambar, wild boar, wild buffalos, Jackal, mongoose, sloth bears, many migratory and native birds as well as amphibians. There are even a few ruins of ancient temples that you may come across while exploring Yala in search of leopards.
Points to Remember
The weather in Yala as well as Wilpattu are hot and dry since they are located in arid and dry regions of Sri Lanka. The dry season in Yala is usually between the months of May and August. You can expect an average temperature of 27 degrees Celsius but it might be unpredictable due to sudden weather changes. However, there are also several rainy periods which are from November to January, March and April as well as September. So, if you really want to spot the leopard, it is wise that you travel during the dry season when these animals are attracted towards the remaining waterholes to quench their thirst. Jeep safaris will also cause animals to retreat towards areas that are less accessible, so make sure that your guide is well prepared.