Wildlife in Sri Lanka - Hot spot for Endemic Flora & Fauna

Historical records mention of a Buddhist Monk in ancient times who reminded a mighty Sinhalese King of the right to life for animals and birds. As a result, the first wildlife sanctuary in the world was established in Sri Lanka.

The Minneriya Sanctuary, Wasgamuwa National Park, Handapanagala, Udawalawe Park, Yala National Park and Bundala sanctuary can be witnessed to the fullest with Experience Lankas Wild Life Safari packages.

About 14 percent of the Sri Lankan Island is dedicated to wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and nature reserves. This small tropical island has high bio diversity and is the home to many endemic species. 879 species of flowering plants and 57 out of 314 ferns are endemic to this beautiful island. There is a wide array of beautiful wild flowers in the country which include more than 250 species of orchids. The soil of Sri Lanka has nourished valuable plants with high medicinal value and stretches of forest with plants yet to be discovered by scientists. Sri Lanka has more than 430 species of migratory and resident birds with 27 endemics. Most of the migratory birds can be found in the dry zone of the country in very large numbers while most of the endemics are in the wet zone. 14 mammals are endemics to the country. Asian elephants, Leopards, Deer species, Slender Loris, Sloth Bear and Monkey species are among the interesting mammals. Visit us for a comprehensive list of National Parks, sanctuaries, forest reserves, forest monasteries, home gardens and plantations that we can fit into your travel itinery.

The Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation’s list of Animals

Big Game : Elephant, Water Buffalo, Leopard, Sloth bear, Wild boar
Deer Types : Spotted, Barking, Mouse, Sambar
Monkeys : Grey Langur, Toque, Purple-faced Leaf Monkey
Reptiles : Swamp Crocodile, Estuarine Crocodile, Iguana
Others : Ceylon Jackal, Fishing Cat, Civet Cat, Grey Mongoose, Giant Squirrel, Porcupine, Indian Pangolin.

Whales and Dolphins are a mega tourist attraction of Sri Lanka. There are about 174 species of reptiles out of which 81 species are endemic to the country. Five species out of the eight marine turtle species are found in Sri Lanka, with these turtles nesting on our shores. Sri Lanka is an amphibian hot spot, even as diverse as Costa Rica. Studies claim of more than 250 species of amphibians in the country. There are 243 known species of Butterflies with 20 endemic to the country. During certain months of the year one can observe butterfly migration consisting of many species. Sri Lanka’s wildlife is as varied as the island itself. In its national parks, you can hire a jeep for elephant and leopard safaris, become engaged in turtle conservation and, for birdwatchers, the country is a veritable delight. Then there is Sinharajah, a couple of hours inland from the west coast, and the last significant area of rainforest left on the island, home to a vast array of endemic species. The wildlife might be hard to spot in the thick forest, but the whole experience can be uplifting. With 12 per cent of the country designated for wildlife protection, there is no doubting Sri Lanka’s commitment to its natural heritage. Safari parks and sanctuaries, most prominent in the southern and central zones, offer the easiest way to see the animals in their natural habitat. Stay alert for a sighting of the endangered leopard; take your time as you watch the elephants feeding and washing in a tank or lagoon; or walk with the turtles until they stop to lay their eggs.

Unless you spot a rare leopard then the sight of a Sri Lanka elephant will probably be the highlight of the tour. The elephant population has dropped from 20,000 to 3,500 since the 1800s, but the level has stabilized with the establishment of corridors, national parks, reserves and the charming orphanage at Pinnawala. The parks offer easy viewing via a guided jeep tour. At the Uda Walawe National Park you are guaranteed to see elephants and it is possible for herds of up to 100 to graze lazily. Watch in awe of the hulking beasts as they splash and spray in groups of up to 150 at the Minneriya Sanctuary. For the cutest elephant experience of all, try the elephant orphanage at Pinewella. The island’s most popular elephant attraction lies near Kegalle, just off the main Colombo-Kandy road, and when the 60 orphans bathe or feed a few metres away from you it is easy to understand why. If it is leopards you are hankering for, your best chance lies at Yala, in the remote south-east, or in the recently reopened Wilpattu national park, which is best approached from either Negombo or Anaradhapura.

Sri Lanka has been identified by the environment activist group Conservation International (CI) as one of 25 biodiversity hot spots in the world, reported the Time weekly early January 2006. These hot spots could have maximum benefit by preservation efforts, the magazine said in a cover story titled "Heroes for the Planet: Earth Angles". The U.S.-based CI said that together with Western India, Sri Lanka, the island in the Indian ocean, accounts for 2,180 plant species that are unique to each hot spot.

The most ancient type of plant area in Sri Lanka is Namal Uyana. The sanctuary at Ulpothagama, Madatugama famous for its pink quartz mountain could be the home of one of the world's largest beds of fossilized plants. The accidental find of a massive fossil bed by a para archaeologist led to a team of government officials visiting the site and submitting a report to Prime Minister recommending that the area be declared a "strict natural reserve" and a high security zone. The plant fossil area is believed to cover over 300 acres. It is easy to see from the rich diversity that anyone interested in plant life would find Sri Lanka a fascinating place - Just one more reason to visit the beautiful and friendly nation of Sri Lanka.