There are 13 national parks and a hundred protected zones throughout the island. Each contains a dynamic and vibrant diversity of fauna and flora. To the south-east of the island, the Yala National Park measuring over 1,500kmē is the most visited of the island. Yala used to be a hunting park and was converted to a nature reserve in 1938. The diversity of fauna and flora is surprising. The park contains elephants, panthers, wild buffalo, bears, jackals, macaques, and the highest number of leopards in the world. Every park has a water reserve, where the animals gather at sunset to quench their thirst. A wonderful site and one of the main points for animal watching and a great reason to stay at the heart of nature reserve it is! Six parks have onsite accommodation in the form of bungalows and camping bases lost in the middle of nature. At night, visitors fall asleep, rocked to the sound of the animals in the surroundings and wake up bright and early to see them rise...then the stuffy heat sets in leaving the animals and visitors alike in a state of lethargy. Due to the heat, excursions tend to take place mornings and evenings by 4 wheel drive - it is forbidden to leave the vehicle at all times. Among the better known parks there is, Yala, which is well known for its leopards, Wasgomuwa, Horton Plains, Rendenigala and Lunugamehera. To see large herds of elephants, the parks Kauduluwawa, Gal Oya, Uda Walawe and Minneriya are recommended. Bird-watchers will be in their element at Bundala, Kumana, Kalemetiya, Tangamalai or Wirawila parks.