Ruhuna (Yala) National Park, Block I is situated in the arid southeast zone of Sri Lanka and is presently the nations most popular wildlife park. At 140 km² it forms the southern extension of a much larger conglomeration of protected areas, the Yala Protected Area Complex extending to the north. This larger complex at 150,937 ha is divided into 5 Blocks including a Strict Natural Reserve and two sanctuaries – Nimalawa and Katagamuwa. The Block I landscape is dominated by thorny scrub jungle interspersed with open coastal plains and dotted with natural and artificial waterholes. This terrain allows for varied species composition and good visibility and thus it is easy to understand why the park is so popular. There are ~ 80 kms of unpaved jeep track which allow access to the entire Block and it is home to all of this island’s mega fauna – elephants, sambhar, buffalo, deer, bear and leopard - as well as a virtual paradise for bird life.
The extensive road network, sizeable prey base, relative habituation and high visibility of the wildlife made this an attractive initial study site.