How Many Leopards Are In Yala?

How Many Leopards Are In Yala

Say hello to the second largest national park in Sri Lanka! Yala National Park has claimed that it has the highest density of leopards.  This post is all about Yala National Park and its density of leopards. Majority of the tourists are curious about how many leopards are in Yala National Park! We’ll give you the exact figure.

As per the official record, there are 40 leopards in the of Yala national park. Anyway, the animals are not tagged, and most of the zones in the park are closed.

The precise number is hard to tell. Considering most of the zones are blocked for the public visitors, one can only estimate the number of leopards zone-wise. In zone one, you will find approximately 40 leopards.

This might seem disappointing to some people, but 40 is a good number. Considering the number of leopards went down, and they are considered to be an endangered species, 40 gives us some hope! Perhaps the numbers will increase well in time with new rules implemented to protect them.

Since the other zones are heavily protected, visitors are not allowed to enter the region. Three zones are blocked and can only be entered by professionals or filming teams.  

In total, there are 650 leopards in the whole of Sri Lanka. Out of 650, 40 are at zone 1 of Yala. The chances of seeing a leopard depend on the type of season and the trail you are taking. An efficient guide would be happy to take you to all the famous trails. Plus, they know about all the difficult and crowded routes.

Yala – Introduction

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The island nation is filled with lush greenery and the best views. Prospective tourists believe that Sri Lanka is known for its cuisine and the fancy villa properties. That’s not the whole truth, my friend! Sri Lanka offers a lot more in the name of tourism.

As you step into the island nation, you will find that the hospitality is top-notch and the national parks are filled with rare species of animals.

God created Yala National Park with a lot of precision. Perhaps it took a lot more work to create Sri Lanka, the beautiful island nation. We, the locals of Sri Lanka, take pride in being the citizens of this breathtaking piece of heaven.

Speaking of Yala National Park, tourists will come across different species of animals. The elephants, monkeys, wild water buffalos, and sloth bears shall cross the road and would be kind enough to make an appearance in front of you.

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Yala is primarily known for the leopard spotting experience. However, you can find other species of animals within the boundaries. There are approximately 215 species of exotic birds. 44 mammal species can be found within the park. Basically, you will not go home feeling disappointed. It will always be a close-to-your-heart experience.

The location of this wondrous national park is spot-on! Some parts of it touch the majestic Indian Ocean. There are brackish lagoon, light forests, and other small water bodies within the boundary.

Located in the South Coast, Yala has five different zones. Some are inaccessible due to the conservation of wildlife. Zone one and zone five are easily accessible, and the other three are only meant for professionals. Anybody who wishes to film the environment and the animals has access to these OUT-OF-REACH spots.

Zone 1 has a lot more bushes which makes it hard for you to see what’s behind them! However, Zone 5 has a lot more stellar views to soak in! If you are lucky enough, you will find wild Sri Lankan elephants having a good time in Zone 5.

A group went to Zone 5 and came across Mother Elephants who gave birth to 2 baby elephants. Such a moment can be priceless for someone who adores Mother Nature and its creations!

Learn to appreciate what you see! You might even find a dancing peacock amidst the lush green forest!

Spotting The Cat In The Wild

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The wild cat is smart enough not to make an appearance, but the guides know the famous trails. They have done enough homework to know where the leopards prance around or relax on a sunny day.

You may see a leopard drinking water from one of the water holes, but always be ready for not being able to see one. In most national parks, the guides take you to the famous trails where the leopard/lion/tiger crosses the road, but it is not possible all the time!

The most famous spot to come in contact with a leopard is near watering holes. The guides take you to Leopard trails. Sometimes, they would point out far away, and you would need binoculars.

If you are lucky enough, the leopard will cross the road right in front of you. Many tourists have had good experiences in spotting leopards in Yala.

Keep your eyes and ears open. These are big cats, and they have the capability to climb trees. You might even spot a cub all perched upon a tree. Spotting a leopard is not a rare instance at Yala! Chances are higher you will come across a leopard, but always learn to appreciate what you see!

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Although visitors enjoy the tour of cruising around in a jeep, soaking in the view and finding a leopard, but the animals may get scared. There will be a time when animals would shy away from coming outside their secret habitat.

Sometimes, you would find 5-6 jeeps cruising around together. This could be scary for the animals, and they might stop making appearances.

You may find leopard cubs in the jungle. They might be out for a stroll or drinking water from the water body. The best bet is to explore the national park and not miss any opportunity.

The best time to spot them is to wake up in the morning for the safari and head out. Morning time is ideal! Afternoons get a lot more crowded and busy. The leopards might just hide deeper into the jungle.

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Yala is a wonderful place to be! If you are in Sri Lanka for a tour, do not forget to make way to Yala. When you are with a tourist guide, he will ensure that your life is safe and secure. The jeep rides are quite safe. However, the government needs to decrease the number of jeeps allowed in one time.

As responsible human beings, our duty is to protect the environment and the endangered species. So, make a plan to visit Yala and pray that you spot a majestic leopard.

Tips To Follow Before You Head To Yala National Park

  • Don’t get disappointed the very first time. People come back to Yala to go on a jeep cruise again. It is important to head to Yala more than once.

  • February is a good time to visit Yala. The weather will be pleasant, and it is less likely to rain.

  • Book the safari that comes with a guide. You would need a guide to spotting the animals. Since you are new, you would not know the famous bird species and the different mammals. Plus, the guides know the best route for leopard spotting.

  • You will find leopards, crocodiles and wild elephants deep within the national park. However, do not go with supremely high expectations. You will not come back disappointed, but make up your mind that the leopard sighting could be rare.

  • Never use flashlight cameras. This could scare the animals. Please know that the national park is the abode of several animals.

  • Kindly maintain silence while you are inside the park. Loud noises, playing music or mocking the animals is strictly prohibited.

  • Do not carry food inside the park. There are monkeys and other wild animals who could attack you. Feeding the animals is not the best idea!

The Downside Of The National Park

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Undoubtedly, Yala is the most famous national park. However, it gets too crowded during the peak season. Jeeps jostling around and troubling the animals. Some tourists do not follow the rules and feed the animals. This proves that YOU should not be doing this at any cost!

By carrying food with you, the chances of getting attacked by a wild animal increase by several notches!

Nobody likes being in a traffic jam! A jungle jam situation is worse as compared to the regular traffic jam on the road. Perhaps that is the only downside of Yala.

Do the animals hide behind the bushes? Since Yala is such a famous spot and jeeps cruise around for hours, the animals have become used to human intervention. Spotting animals is not a complicated task in Yala! However, all the tourists hope to see the leopard inside the park.

Concluding Thoughts

Never lose the opportunity to go on a safari as many times as you can! Some tourists make peace with one safari ride. If you have not spotted the leopard on your first trip, stay near Yala for 3-4 nights and go for 2 more safaris. This will increase your chances of spotting a leopard.

The big cat is quite swift yet elegant. The way they walk – it is close to royalty!


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Hi, I am Richard, I moved to Sri Lanka with my family in 2016. We launched the website so we can share what we experience, learn with anyone interested in visiting Sri Lanka. The country is such an amazing island. I invite all of you to be here at least once in your lifetime.