Nature & Environment

 

Photography-Sanjeewa Lakmal

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Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park in Sri Lanka. It is of international significance and can been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The hilly virgin rainforest, part of the Sri Lanka lowland rain forests ecoregion, was saved from the worst of commercial logging by its inaccessibility, and was designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a World Heritage Site in 1988. The reserve's name translates as Kingdom of the Lion.

The reserve is only 21 km from east to west, and a maximum of 7 km from north to south, but it is a treasure trove of endemic species, including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Because of the dense vegetation, wildlife is not as easily seen as at dry-zone national parks such as Yala. There are about 3 elephants and the 15 or so leopards are rarely seen. The commonest larger mammal is the endemic Purple-faced Langur.

An interesting phenomenon is that birds tend to move in mixed feeding flocks, invariably led by the fearless Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and the noisy Orange-billed Babbler. Of Sri Lanka's 26 endemic birds (suranganet), the 20 rainforest species all occur here, including the elusive Red-faced Malkoha, Green-billed Coucal and Sri Lanka Blue Magpie.

Reptiles include the endemic Green pit viper and Hump-nosed vipers, and there are a large variety of amphibians, especially tree frogs. Invertebrates include the endemic Common Birdwing butterfly and the inevitable leeches.

 
 

 

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Sri Lanka is an island, 65,610 km2 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 bioddiversity. This site provides information, galleries, discussions on Sri Lankan Environment, Biodiverstiy, Eco-tourism and environmental issues. Sri Lanka has an exotic and vibrant resource base of Ecotourism. Fifteen(15) distinct bio regions in an area of 62,500 square km each offering different ecosystems, such as Sinharaja rain forest and wildlife opportunities in national parks of the island including six world heritage sites.

 

Sri Lanka has the highest Biodiversity per 10,000 square km in Asia. It is one of the 25 Biodiversity hot spots of the world. A noteworthy 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. Sri Lanka has a wide range of topographic and climatic variation and this contributes to the special features of its biodiversity.



Sri Lanka's contains about 24 wildlife reserves, these are home to a wide range of native species such as elephants, leopard, sloth bear, the unique small loris, a verity of deer, the purple faced leaf monkey, the endangered wild boar, porcupines and ant-eaters. Reptiles include vipers and marsh and estuarine crocodiles. Among many amphibians endemic to the country are the Nanophyrys frogs in the hills. Most of the fish are river or marsh dwelling- the trout, introduced by the British are found in the cool streams of the Horton plains.All wildlife reserves are for the protection of wildlife and plants though the categories differ. There are few "Strict Nature Reserves" (Ritigala, Hakgala), which are set aside for research work only. "National Parks" managed by Department of wildlife conservation are open to visitation. The largest National Parks are Ruhuna-Yala, Gal-oya, Uda Walawe, Wilpattu, Minneriya-Girithale, Horton Plains and Wasgomuwa. "Nature Reserves" provide suitable habitats for wildlife by allow limited human activity, while "Sanctuaries" allow human activities (eg. Khalle Pallekele Sanctuary).

Forests managed by Forest department also attract ecotourists. These forests include Sinharaja world heritage site (which is also man and biosphere site), Kithulgala Forest Reserve, Knuckles forest range and the highland peak wilderness and Adams Peak. Sri Lanka also an ornithologist's paradise with over 250 resident species, mostly found in the wet zone. The Kumana sanctuary in the southeast, and Bundala (famous for flamingoes), Kalametiya and Weerawila sanctuaries between Tissamaharama and Hambantota in the south, all with lagoons are the principal bird sanctuaries. Bellanwila-Attidiya sanctuary close to Colombo and Kurulu-kele Vegetation in Kegalle are also some other bird watching areas.

Yagirala Forest and Field Research station - Rain forest situated in Kalutara district and part of the forest is managed by Department of Forestry and Environment Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura. This is used for field activities of forestry students and for research, and can be reserved for visitors and visiting foreign students and researchers.

Waterfalls - The island is blessed with 103 rivers and streams radiating from the central hills, rushing down rocky precipices forming a number of roaring waterfalls of various shapes and heights, all ending up loosing the momentum at the Indian Ocean. Some of the most picturesque waterfalls include Diyaluma, St. Claires, Devon falls and Bopath Ella.

Wetlands - These are unique ecosystems with numerous bird life some with mangrove vegetation. eg. Muthurajawela mangroves, Negombo mangrove ecosystem, madu ganga and Bolgoda Lake.
Botanical Gardens - There are three botanical gardens in Sri Lanka: Peradeniya, Hakgala and Gampaha- Henerathgoda.

Zoological Gardens - Dehiwala zoo is one of the most attractive in Asia. The 15 ha of undulating ground is beautifully laid out with shrubs, flowering trees and plants, orchids, lakes and fountains. There are over 2000 animals include large collection of birds, elephants, sloth bear, leopard, civets, and other small cats, many kinds of lizard, crocodiles and snakes. Lions, tigers, jaguars, black panthers, and many exotic species such as hippopotami, rhinos, giraffes and kangaroos. The aquarium has over 500 species of fish.


Museums - The National Museum in Colombo 7, set in an elegant white Neoclassical building and opened in 1877. It has a large collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture, porcelain and Kandyan regalia. The Natural History Museum is just behind the National Museum. Exhibits here include stuffed leopards, pickled snakes and presentations of the islands ecology and biodiversity. The regular meetings of Young Biologists' Association are held in the third floor of the Natural History Museum building.

Elephant orphanages - Pinnewala Elephant orphanage is one of the island's most popular tourist attractions. Pinnewala is home to the world's most largest troupe of captive elephants, from dignified elderly to the cutest of babies.

 
   

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