Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park

There have been 324 species of vertebrates recorded in Bundala National Park, of which 32 species are fish, 15 species are amphibians, 48 species are reptiles, 197 species are birds, and 32 species are mammalian. 52 species of butterflies and large Sri Lankan elephants can also be seen here.

a baby elephant with their mother at bundala national park in sri lanka

Birding and Crocodile Experience at Bundala National Park

This National Park has been identified as an outstanding “Important Bird Area” in the South Indian and Sri Lankan wetlands. 197 species of birds have been identified here, with the wetland habitats harbouring about 100 species of water birds, of which half are migrants. Of the 197 avifaunal species, 58 are migratory species. The Bundala National Park is the last known refuge of the Greater Flamingo and large flocks can be observed here during their migration season.

Bundala is the only National Park in Sri Lanka where safari-goers get to observe both species of crocodiles that exist on the island. High numbers of Estuarine and Mugger Crocodiles can be seen here.

The Estuarine Crocodile is the largest of all the reptiles; males grow up to 7m in length and can weight even up to 1,200 kilograms, while the females are much smaller in comparison, reaching a maximum length of just 3m.

Mammals at Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park is home to 32 different species of mammals, five of which are classified as threatened. For bird enthusiasts, the complex wetland system harbours rich bird life, with 197 species recorded, including several species of migratory waterfowl. There is a small population of Sri Lankan elephants (a recognised subspecies of its Asian counterpart) in Bundala which are fairly easy to spot in the open habitat. Visitors are often lucky enough to see a lone elephant walking along the beach.

Sri Lankan Leopards can also be found in the Park with their food source being the numerous Spotted Deer, Sambar and Barking Deer, although they are not as easy to spot here in comparison to Yala. The endemic Toque Macaque, Common Langur, Jackal, Fishing Cat, Rusty-spotted Cat, Mongoose, Wild Boar, Mouse Deer, Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer and Black-napped Hare are amongst the other mammals which can be sighted on a Bundala safari.

a crocodile at bundala national park in sri lanka
Reptiles & Amphibians at the Bundala National Park

There are 2 endemic species namely the Yala Toad (Bufo atukoralei) and the Sri Lanka Keelback which is a water snake (Xenochrophis asperrimus) at the Bundala National Park. Other species at the Park include the Common Monitor, Star Tortoise, Python, Rat Snake, endemic Flying Snake, Cat Snake and Whip Snake. The adjacent seashore is a breeding ground for all five species of endangered sea turtles that migrate here. Marsh and Estuarine Crocodiles are both found in Bundala, in addition to Monitor Lizards and a variety of other reptiles.

Birdlife at Bundala National Park

The rare Black-necked Stork and Great Thick-knee are particular birding highlights. It is easy to spot the Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Red Shank, Spot-billed Pelican, Blue-faced Malkoha, Crested Hawk Eagle and Brown Shrike, to name but a few. Migrants and vagrants make the journey from as far as Siberia; over 15,000 shore birds might be feeding at any one time between October and March. The Bundala National Park is also the last refuge for the impressive Greater Flamingo.

Flora at Bundala National Park

The most abundant plant life in Bundala is dry thorny shrubs and herbs. A total of 383 plant species belonging to 90 families have been recorded here. Hydrilla is in abundance in lagoons such as Embilikala and Malala, while Water Hyacinth, Water Lilies and Typha angustifolia reed beds are found in the marshes and streams. The vegetation mostly consists of shrubs and a depleted mangrove patch.

Bundala National Park History and Geography

Bundala National Park covers an area of slightly more than 6,200 hectares in the southern district of Hambantota. The Park falls within the arid zone of Sri Lanka, with a general climate of hot and dry. The terrain is generally flat with sand dunes bordering the coastline, and a vegetation of dry thorny scrub lands – the latter provides a natural barrier to the winds which would otherwise accelerate desertification of the countryside. The Bundala National Park is Sri Lanka’s first Ramsar Wetland – a wetland area of great international importance for migratory waterfowl, as well as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The Park was declared a wildlife sanctuary on 5th December 1969.

Getting the most out of your Bundala National Park Safari

When it comes to birdwatching, an expert naturalist guide is an absolute must have on a Sri Lankan wildlife safari. Mahoora provides not only an experienced guide, but also bird books, binoculars, tea, snacks and water for safari-goers. The right kind of vehicle to navigate through the varied terrain is also necessary, so a safari jeep in this case is ideal.

Climate at Bundala National Park

The Park falls within the south eastern arid zone of Sri Lanka and the general climate is classified as hot and dry. The mean annual temperature is 27°C and annual rainfall ranges from 900 to 1,300 millimetres. The dry period persists from May to September.

Best times to visit the Bundala National Park

While the Bundala National Park can be visited throughout the year, December is considered the best month for birding, while August to April is a good season for a fantastic wildlife safari.

How to get to Bundala National Park

There are 3 regular routes from Colombo; along the coast via Galle, Matara, Tangalle, Hambantota (approximately 160miles/256km) and via Ratnapura, Pelmadulla, Embilipitiya, Hambantota (approximately 152miles/245km). Through the Southern Expressway – exit the expressway in Galle and continue past Matara and Tangalle. Expect a travel time of 3 to 4 hours from Colombo. Alternatively you can travel by Air Taxi, taking off from Colombo (Peliyagoda) and landing in Hambantota. From Hambantota you can reach the Bundala National Park by road or by helicopter – take off either from the Bandaranaike Airport or from Ratmalana and land at Bundala. You can reach the Park by road from there. For more information on air travel visit www.flysrilanka.lk.

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