Bundala national park, comprising an area of approximately 6,200 hectares, had a reputation as a bird sanctuary before it was established as a national park. In the 1980s, local safari operators discovered that Bundala was a better bet for elephants than Ruhuna/Yala. Jeeps began to arrive en masse to see the elephant herds and subsequently it was elevated to national park by the authorities to give control over access. It is similar to the coastal parts of its eastern neighbor Ruhuna National park. It is a mix of scrub jungle and sand dunes bordering the sea. The beaches are an important nesting site for turtles. The lagoons within the park hold good numbers of birds and crocodiles.
What to see
Birdwatchers can look out for the two endemics found in the park; the brown-capped babbler and the Sri Lanka jungle fowl. The letter is more likely to be seen as it cross jeep tracks. The babbler has a frustrating habit of uttering a call ( it sounds like Pretee dear)but not showing itself. The water bodies in the park hold a host of wetland birds. A successful game drive could yield upwards of 50 species, including cattle, intermediate and great egret, Asian spoonbill, spoonbill, black-winged stilt, yellow-wattled lapwing.
During the northern winter there are large numbers of migrants, including golden plover, large and lesser sand plovers, Kentish plover, curlew, greenshank, marsh sandpiper, little stint and curlew sandpiper.
The park has a good selection of larger animals with elephants top of the list for visitors. Other mammals include spotted deer, muntjac, Hanuman langur, jackal, black-naped here, wild pig, water monitor and crocodile.
Unlikely to be seen by visitors because of their nocturnal habits are civet cat, rusty-spotted cat, slender loris porcupine and pangolin.
The fishing cat is also found at Bundala. Despite being a widespread animal, little is known of its fishing technique because of its nocturnal habits. The Olive ridley and leatherback turtles are regular visitors, whereas the hawksbill and green turtles are tare Bufo athukoralei, an endemic frog, is also found in the park,
The flora consists of dry acacia scrub comprising andara, kukuruman, eraminiya and karamba. The scrub forest includes trees like maila, malittan, weer, palu kohomba and divul.