Introduction to Sri Lanka Wildlife
Sri Lanka is an island, with 65,610 SQ KM in area situated close to the Southeast corner of the peninsula of India. Despite its relatively small size, Sri Lanka possesses a high level of Bio-Diversity (The total variety of living things at the genetic, species and ecosystem level). A significant feature of Sri Lanka's biodiversity is the remarkable high proportion of endemic species among its flora and fauna: 23% of the flowering plants and 16% of the mammals in the island are endemic (An organism that occurs naturally only in a named place).
Also, Sri Lanka has been identified by the Environment Activist Group Conservation International (CI) as one of 25 biodiversity hot spots in the world. Sri Lanka's tropical rain forest ecosystem is considered as an area which is disturbed by human activity, but still exceptionally rich in animal and plant species found nowhere else. Sri Lanka has a wide range of topographic and climatic variation and this contributes to the special features of its biodiversity.
National Wildlife Policy of Sri Lanka (Department of Wildlife Conservation) “To conserve wildlife and nature by the sustainable utilization of men, material and land through participatory management, research, education and law enforcement and ensure the maintenance of biodiversity and forest cover as exist today".
What is Wild Life?
Wildlife includes its flora and Fauna and their natural habitats.
Fauna - The Animals of a particular region, habitat, or geological period.
Flora - The Plants of a particular region, habitat, or geological period.
Sri Lanka is home to roughly 91 species of mammals, 41 of which are threatened (9 critically). 16 of the species are endemic, of which 14 are threatened, including the large Sloth Bear, the endemic Sri Lanka Leopard and Sri Lankan Elephant and the Sambar. Bats have the highest amount of species, with 30 different species. Sri Lanka's surrounding waters are home to 26 species of Cetaceans.
Sri Lanka currently contains 171 species of reptiles, of which 56 are threatened and 101 are endemic. Most of the reptiles are snakes and the largest are two species of Crocodile, the Mugger crocodile and Saltwater Crocodile.
Sri Lanka has one of the most rich diversity of amphibians in the world, containing over 106 species of amphibians (over 90 of which are endemic) and has been claimed to have the highest amphibian species density in the world though that has been challenged. 52 species of amphibians in Sri Lanka are threatened, all but one of which are endemic.
The bird life of Sri Lanka is very rich for its size, and about 433 species have been recorded. In addition to the many resident birds, a considerable number of migratory species winter in the country to escape their northern breeding grounds. 233 species are resident, of which the most important are the 26 endemics, with 7 more proposed. The other resident species are also found in the adjacent Indian mainland, but over 80 have developed distinct Sri Lankan races. Some of these races are very different in their plumage characteristics from the related forms in India.
Bird distribution in Sri Lanka is largely determined by its climatic zones. The dry zone is largest of the three, covering more than half of the area of the island, with a prolonged dry and hot period and only one monsoon (the northeast monsoon from October to January). The wet zone, with two monsoons, is in the southwestern quarter of the island, where the few remaining rain forests are found and humidity is high.
Sri Lanka contains 82 species of freshwater fish, of which 28 are threatened.
There is known over 246 land gastropods of Sri Lanka. Fauna of Sri Lanka also include freshwater snails. The number of marine molluscs of Sri Lanka is not known and there is about 240 species listed.
Diversity and endemism of plants in Sri Lanka are quite high. There are 3,210 flowering plants belonging to 1,052 genera. 916 species and 18 genera are endemic to the island. Additionally, all but one of the island’s more than 55 dipterocarpsare confined to Sri Lanka.
Tropical rainforest covers much of the southwestern part of the island, where teak and ebony grow. Orchids abound in the lush forest. The hills in central Sri Lanka have the perfect climate for tea cultivation and whole hillsides are dedicated to growing this compact, dark-leafed camellia for its fragrant leaves. It is in the cool hills that most of the commercial vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce are grown. The coasts are more arid, with low scrub and grasslands, and it's here you'll see tall coconut palms lining the roads. Outside of the city, most homes have their own stands of papaya and mango trees, banana plants, breadfruit and jackfruit trees. Many of the ornamental plants that adorn temples and homes are not native to the Indian Sub-continent but are so familiar now that their origins seem unimportant.
National Parks of Sri Lanka
There are many National parks and sanctuaries where one can see animals in their natural habitat. Major animals that roam in National Park include elephants, leopards, sloth bears, deers, monkeys, wild buffalos, wild boars, porcupines, civet cats, jackals, mongooses, several varieties of lizards, squirrels, reptiles and amphibians.
Yala (Ruhuna) National Park – (Wide range of wildlife)
Ruhuna (Yala) National Park, one of the Sri Lanka's most famous national park, is situated 350 km away from the capital city of Colombo, bordering the southern sea coast. The number of mammals that has been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world.
Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. Actually it consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public; and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names also, like Ruhuna National Park for the (best known) block 1 and Kumana National Park or 'Yala East' for the adjoining area. It is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. The park covers 979 SQ KM and is located about 300 kilometres from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu it was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants and aquatic birds.
The park is situated in the dry semi-arid climatic region and rain is received mainly during the northeast monsoon. Yala hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. It is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. Yala harbours 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka.
Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu National Park (Willu-pattu - Land of Lakes) is a park located on North West part of Sri Lanka. The unique feature of this park is the existence of "Willus" (Natural lakes) - Natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. Located in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka. The park is located 30 km west Anuradhapura and located 26 km north of Puttalam (approximately 180 km north of Colombo). The park is 131, 693 hectares and ranges from 0 to 152 meters above sea level. Nearly sixty lakes (Willu) and tanks are found spread throughout Wilpattu. Wilpattu is the largest and one of the oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is among the top national parks world renowned for its Leopard population.
Bundala National Park (Bird Paradise)
Bundala National Park is an internationally important wintering ground for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. Bundala harbors 197 species of Birds, the highlight being the Greater Flamingo, which migrate in large flocks. Bundala was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1969 and redesignated to a national park in 1993. In 2005 the national park was designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, the fourth biosphere reserve in Sri Lanka. The national park is situated 245 kilometres southeast of Colombo.
Horton Plains National Park
Horton Plains National Park is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. This plateau at an altitude of 2,100–2,300 metres (6,900–7,500 ft) is rich in biodiversity and many species found here are endemic to the region. This region was designated a national park in 1988. It is also a popular tourist destination and is situated 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Nuwara Eliya.
The Horton Plains are the headwaters of three major Sri Lankan rivers, the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe. In Sinhala the plains are known as Maha Eliya Plains. The plains' vegetation is grasslands interspersed with montane forest, and includes many endemic woody plants. Large herds of Sri Lankan Sambar Deer feature as typical mammals, and the park is also an Important Bird Area with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka but restricted to the Horton Plains. The sheer precipice of World's End and Baker's Falls are among the tourist attractions of the park.
Udawalawe National Park
Udawalawe National Park lies on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces, in Sri Lanka. The national park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe reservoir on the Walawe River, as well as to protect the catchment of the reservoir. The reserve covers 30,821 hectares (119.00 sq mi) of land area and was established on 30 June 1972. Before the designation of the national park, the area was used for shifting cultivation (chena farming). The farmers were gradually removed once the national park was declared. The park is 165 kilometres (103 mi) from Colombo. Udawalawe is an important habitat for water birds and Sri Lankan Elephants. It is a popular tourist destination and the third most visited park in the country. Dry-mixed evergreen forest, the dominant forest type within the park, retains its greenery even during the dry season and harbors one of Asia'a largest & most viable elephant (Elephas maximus) populations.
Minneriya National Park
Minneriya National Park is a national park in North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The area was designated as a national park on 12 August 1997, having been originally declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. The reason for declaring the area as protected is to protect the catchment of Minneriya tank and the wildlife of the surrounding area. The tank is of historical importance, having been built by King Mahasen in third century AD. The park is a dry season feeding ground for the elephant population dwelling in forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa, and Trincomalee districts. The park earned revenue of Rs. 10.7 millions in the six months ending in August 2009. Along with Kaudulla and Girithale, Minneriya forms one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Sri Lanka. The park is situated 182 kilometres (113 mi) from Colombo. The area is situated in dry zone of Sri Lanka and receives an average rainfall of 1,500–2,000 millimetres (59–79 in). The lowest temperature and highest of the park are 20.6 °C (69.1 °F) and 34.5 °C (94.1 °F) respectively.
The main habitats of Minneriya are of several types, including low-canopy montane forests, intermediate high-canopy secondary forests, scrublands, abandoned chena lands, grasslands, rocky outcrops, and wetlands.
Images of Minneriya
Apart from the above National Parks, Sri Lanka possessing another National Parks such as Gal Oya / Wasgamuwa / Lunugamvehera / Maduru Oya which you can enjoy rch vaity of wild life in highly diversified eco systems.
We at Ceylon Insight hope these informations are adequate to get an idea of Sri Lanka wildlife and please feel free to contact us directly via email@example.com or fill following enquiry form and submit in order to tailor your holiday with wildlife as per your requirements and ideas.