List Of Dangerous Wild Animals in Sri Lanka

Dangerous wild animals

With an area of nearly 25,332 square miles, Sri Lanka is a perfect homeland for wild animals, especially dangerous ones. It is no doubt that animal watching is among the best reasons to travel to Sri Lanka.During your stay in Sri Lanka, you will have the chance to meet many species of wild animals. Urbanization and industry are still less developed on the island, and wildlife still coexists with locals and the new influx of tourists.

However, at any time, you could easily be encountered by a dangerous wild animal, even without knowing it. So, what are these animals? Which of them are endangered, and which are not? How should you act if you see one?  In this article, we will tackle the most dangerous wild animals in Sri Lanka. We will also provide you with the tips you need to help you stay safe during your stay in Sri Lanka.

  1. Sri Lankan Leopard
  2. Golden Jackal 
  3. Phoneutria
  4. Snakes
  5. Crocodile 
  6. Lazy Sloth Bear
  7. Sri Lankan Elephant
  8. Water Buffalo
  9. Water Buffalo

Let get in to detail

Sri Lankan Leopard

Leopard is the largest predator in Sri Lanka. It usually lives in the forests, arid jungle, wetlands, or highlands. It measures about 1.30m, with a long tail of about 90cm. It is then large enough to be considered dangerous. 

Due to being nocturnal animals, leopards often remain hidden. In Sri Lanka, they are found in the Yala Park in the most significant number worldwide.  Still, estimated at less than 1000, Sri Lankan leopards are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of endangered animals.  

Golden Jackal 

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The Golden Jackal is the most widespread species of Jackals from Africa to Southeast Asia. Like other species of Jackals, the golden Jackal forms monogamous couples united for life. The male participates in the protection and education of the young.

The Jackals are territorial and the couple defends its territory against any intrusion of other Jackals. They mark their territory by urinating and defecating but also through their screams that often resound in the Indian jungle. In Sri Lanka, the Golden Jackal is a very discreet animal that lives in the shadow of other predators; tigers and leopards can put it on their menus. It is a particularly important species in this country as it is the only true predator-scavenger. 

Like most animals, the Golden Jackals sense the danger when they are being closed to. Therefore, they may attack anything that is coming to them, even people. If you want to safely watch them, you can visit the Yala National Park and get real photos. 


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Phoneutria is a part of the Wandering spiders (Ctenidae) family. It is the size of a human skull and its legs can measure more than 22 centimeters. It lives in India and Sri Lanka. Phoneutrias are often very colorful and their bite requires special care. Living mainly on banana diets, this creature possesses the most powerful venom of all spider species. She is also very aggressive and does not hesitate to kill.

It is an exotic species that has claimed many victims, including workers in the fields in India. His venom contains two particularly dangerous toxins: severe loss of muscle control and asphyxiation. By chemical reactions, it causes a strong and painful erection in men that can last for hours. This is why but you are not advised to try to touch it!


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In Sri Lanka, snakes like cobra or viper are not rare. With 96 different species, this tropical island is a snake paradise. More than half are endemic species; thirty-two are poisonous, twenty are deadly (including thirteen sea snakes). A snake is indeed one of the most dangerous wild animals in Sri Lanka.   

The cobras are the delight of the snake charmers, who you can certainly meet during your trip. Near Mirissa, a snake farm is worth a visit to learn more about these reptiles. Still, you can safely and closely watch them in Peak Wilderness reserve, but do not forget to be accompanied by a guide man or even a local. 


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Among other dangerous wild animals in Sri Lanka are crocodiles. Crocodiles there are rarer to see, but they are sometimes found in lagoons or national parks.An adult male marine crocodile can be up to 5 meters long and weigh 500 kg, but specimens of 7 meters and one tone are not exceptional. 

Crocodiles are found in many national parks, such as the Wilpattu National Park in the northwest of the island, not far from Anuradhapura, along with other animals like elephants, collared bears, deer, crocodiles and many species of birds. 

In 2017, the British journalist Paul Mcclean was found dead due to an attack by a crocodile, not far from the beach in Sri Lanka. According to the British press, the young man was on holiday on the island with his friends when he was killed.

Lazy Sloth Bear

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One of the most interesting mammal species to observe in Sri Lanka is the “lazy bear”. Also known as a “Lippi Bear“, this species of bear lives only in the Himalayas and Sri Lanka. It feeds mainly on fruit, honey, and insects. Very noisy, it is heard from afar, even if it moves discreetly. In fact, this bear has no front teeth, and sucks insects – that’s why it eats loudly! 

The lazy bear is between 1.20 and 1.80 m tall and is the only bear in Sri Lanka. This species of bear does not hibernate, but it is quieter in the rainy season. Do not approach this bear, as it can be very aggressive when it thinks it is in danger.

Sri Lankan Elephant

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The largest-populated mammal in Sri Lanka, the elephant, lives in large numbers on this Asian island. The Sri Lankan elephant is one of three species of Asian elephants. The Asian elephant is currently ranked among the most endangered species in the world.

There are just fewer than 6000 elephants in Sri Lanka, making it the densest elephant population in Asia! So you will have the chance to see elephants during your trip. Sri Lanka also has a number of domesticated elephants, used for transportation and field work. But even these elephants remain wild and, sometimes, dangerous: this is why the locals build cabins in the trees, to shelter in case of attack!

In 2019, an Asian online press journal stated that two Sri Lankan elephants were running at a religious festival, causing 17 people to be harmed and led to the local hospital. This is why the elephant is included as one of the dangerous wild animals in Sri Lanka.  

Aside from that, elephants can be seen in most of Sri Lanka’s natural parks, but the country’s largest elephant gathering takes place in the Minneriya region. It should be noted that the elephant is a sacred animal in Sri Lanka, and one of the symbols of this country. 

Water Buffalo

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There are also many water Buffalos in Sri Lanka, which, like elephants, are wild to some, domesticated to others. In the wildlife, the Buffalo is a species in danger of extinction. There are about 4000 Buffalo (wild and domesticated) in Sri Lanka. For a local, water Buffalo seems like a good source of milk. However, it may be dangerous for a visitor, especially if the Buffalo is hungry and angry. 

Deathstalker Scorpion

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It is part of the Arachnids family and, along with the snake, became one of the symbols of the desert regions. Surprisingly, its ancestors were immemorial aquatic, provided with gills before developing lungs and small claws to get out of the water and become only terrestrial.

Provided with two pliers, a carapace and a needle to the venom can be fatal, fast and discreet, this scorpion is better not to bother. In Sri Lanka, it is mainly found in the tropical forest as well as in the wetland. 

The Deathstalker scorpion is well equipped: two main eyes complemented by two to five pairs of smaller lateral eyes; four pairs of loco motor legs finished with claws; a pair of claws and a mouth framed with hooks. For people, this scorpion can be deadly always remains very painful. One million people are bitten every year, and about 3,000 die because of a lack of immediate medical care. 

Other Wild Animals In Sri Lanka

Apart from these dangerous wild animals in Sri Lanka, there are some other not-so-dangerous wild animals. Take a look at the list before we move forward with the famous national parks in Sri Lanka. 

  • Purple-Faced Langoor 
  • Sloth Bear
  • Giant Squirrel 
  • Junglefowl (National Bird of Sri Lanka)
  • Sambhar deer

List of Famous National Parks Which You Can Spot These Animals

If you are heading to Sri Lanka for a wildlife tour, you are in for a treat because there is a long list of national parks in the area. Here’s a list of the famous national parks in Sri Lanka. How about skimming through them? This way, you will be able to plan your trip in an organized manner. Trust us when we say this – You would need at least two weeks to soak in the beauty of the island nation. 

1. Yala National Park 

Famous for: The Mighty Leopard 

Yala is the most famous national park in Sri Lanka.

If you wish to indulge in leopard spots, head to Yala. If you compare the national park with any other park in Sri Lanka, this has to be the most popular pick. It is always swarming with tourists and nature-enthusiasts. 

It takes about 5 hours from Colombo to reach this lush green and gorgeous national park. Tourists will find approximately two hundred species of birds here. Additionally, there are forty species of wild animals around here. 

You can spot the following animals – buffalo, elephant, sambhar deer, jackal, monkey, sloth bear, leopards, and mongoose. Of course, the leopard is the highlight of the park. When you visit Sri Lanka during the month of April through August, you will be able to spot the leopards. September is not the best time to visit Yala. Get your cameras ready, but do not carry one with a flash. 

2. Udawalawe National Park

Famous for: Wild Elephants 

Take a minute to pronounce the word, ‘Udawalawe.’ Udawalawe is known for its housing 500 wild elephants. Now, that is a big number! There is a scrub jungle to witness, and widespread grasslands will keep you hooked.

When you head to Udawalawe for a safari ride, it is guaranteed to spot an Asian Elephant. Our only concern is that tourists get too close to animals. For your safety, watch the magnificence of the elephants from a distance. Apart from the gigantic elephants and their babies, you will also find exotic birds sitting on the trees. Who wouldn’t enjoy the massive space and greenery? 

3. Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Famous for: Exotic birds

Bird-watchers and photographers will have a gala time at the Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Mirissa Beach is quite close to this national park. After a long tour, you can head to the beach. Animals that are present here include leopards, barking deer, langur, and squirrels. Did you know that there are three types of squirrels in the Sinhraja Forest Reserve? There is only one way to find that out! Head to Sinharaja! 

4. Wilpattu National Park 

Known for: Sloth Bear 

A four-hour drive from Colombo, the Wilpattu National Park, is quite famous for its sloth bears. There are many lakes within the space, and these are known as ‘villus.’ You will also get a chance to spot the barking deer and the mighty leopard. 

Don’t get your hopes high! Wilpattu was known for spotting the big cat, but for fifteen years, the national park was not functional. If you want to spot leopards, Yala is a better option. 

Tips to Stay Safe in Sri Lanka 

For many, wildlife viewing in Sri Lankan national parks is an unforgettable experience. This is an opportunity to connect with nature and enrich your knowledge. 

It must be remembered, however, that animals, too, observe us, and what they retain from our encounters can affect their behavior towards humans. Maintaining a healthy distance between people and wildlife helps ensure their safety and that of visitors. Here are some tips that will help you:

  • Learn about the wildlife of this country that you are visiting. We hope you have read all about the wild animals in this elaborate post! 
  • Feeding wild animals is not a safe choice. Do not keep food items in the jeep as animals might attack. 
  • If you are camping in Sri Lanka, try to keep your campsite clean. Sri Lankans are known for keeping their vicinity sparkling clean. 
  • If you are hiking, try to stay in a group and keep your kids close. Take a guide along with you for enhanced security. 
  • Stay at a safe distance from wild animals, even if you are with someone. Take a tour guide with you. 
  • Never get off the jeep. The wild animals could attack. Please note it is their habitat, not your home. 
  • Be vigilant and attentive to your environment; always look around you.
  • Do not leave designated trails and follow all the signs
  • Never swim or even get close to a lake. 
  • If you have a baby, never opt for camping. 
  • Keep your phone on silent. 
  • Turn the flashlight off. 
  • Do not try and touch wild animals. Even if they look friendly, it is not safe to get close to wild animals. 

These were some of the tips that will prepare you for the safari tour. May to August is an excellent time to visit the national park. It also depends on the season you are opting for. Leopards can be spotted during the dry season. It is the perfect time as they step out for a swig of water

Concluding Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed reading this elaborate post on ‘dangerous wild animals in Sri Lanka.’ 

Ideally, plan your trip in the dry season. Sri Lanka witnesses two monsoon seasons, hence you should be planning your trip before that. 

Apart from the dangerous wild animals, you can head to the ocean and find whales and dolphins. They say that there is plenty of fish in the sea. In Sri Lanka, you can watch thousands of dolphins. 

You can head to Kalpitiya or Mirrisa to watch the beauty of the aquatic creatures. If you are fond of adventure activities, there is always snorkeling and scuba diving. This way, you can explore the ocean like never before. 

So, plan a trip to the island and do make sure you visit the national parks mentioned above. 


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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.