WILDLIFE IN SRI LANKA AND THEIR NATURAL HABITATS
Despite its small size Sri Lanka boasts of one of the highest rates of biological endemism in the world whether in plants or animals and is included among the top five biodiversity hotspots in the world. Of the ninety-one species of mammals found in Sri Lanka Asian elephants, sloth bear, leopards, sambar and wild buffaloes engages the majority of the attention of wildlife enthusiast. Yet the rarest mammals of Sri Lanka are the red slender Loris, Toque Macaque, and Purple-faced Langur, who according to IUCN clarifications are endangered due to habitat loss. Meanwhile the ocean around Sri Lanka is home to large families of cetaceans including the mighty blue whales, sperm whales and lively dolphins. Altogether 26 species of cetaceans rule the waters surrounding the country, making it one of the best locations for whale and dolphin watching. Despite the mighty elephants and rare amphibians found in the country birds are the glory of the Sri Lanka’s wildlife. Boasting nearly 433 bird species of which 233 are resident Sri Lanka holds 20 endemic species while another 80 species have developed distinct Sri Lankan races, compared to their cousins in Indian mainland.
Although less celebrated, Sri Lanka has one of the richest diversity of amphibians in the world, containing over 106 species of amphibians of over 90 of which are endemic. The country has long claimed to have the highest amphibian species density in the world with a high concentration in the Sinharaja rainforest. Sri Lanka is one of the best places in Asia for seeing wildlife. The island’s isolation from the mainland, the heavy rainfall of the two diagonally blowing monsoons, and the country’s wide range of altitudes have given Sri Lanka a variation in climate and biodiversity normally found only across an entire continent.
And Sri Lanka is proud of its natural bounty. For over 2,000 years, swathes of land have been preserved as sanctuaries by Sri Lankan royalty, Mihintale, the world’s first reserve, was created here in the third century BC. Now there are 100 areas of protected land in the country, and this is the pick of the bunch...
** Yala West (Ruhuna) National Park ** Best for: Leopards , the park hosts around 30, some of which are fairly bold for this normally secretive cat. Created to protect the watershed of the enormous Uda Walawe Reservoir, this park, just south of the central mountains, has extensive stretches of grassland as well as scrub jungle and riverine forest. It’s the best in the continent for observing Asian elephants in the wild; in fact elephant sightings are virtually guaranteed, even if you only go on one game drive. Otherwise, the park is poor for viewing mammals, but birdwatchers will enjoy the presence of fabulously named raptors such as the changeable hawk eagle, serpent eagle and grey-headed fish eagle. Many more to see in this beautiful Island Nature of paradise!!!