kingfisher, five lesser known natural attractions

Biodiversity of Sri Lanka

Biodiversity of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, the tropical island in the Indian Ocean has become one of the most popular adventures and nature holiday destinations in the world. Sri Lanka has an abundance of natural wealth and the island is one of the top ten bio-diversity hot-spots in the world. Pristine unspoiled beaches, thousands of years of old historical sites, gigantic ancient man-made reservoirs, primaeval rainforest, the richness of wildlife, and delicious Asian cuisines are several interesting things that take you by surprise.

This tiny island is 65610 sq km in extent and shows a fascinating variation of landscapes and natural resources across the island. In the centre of the country is the mountain that rises up to 2500 meters from the sea level while the elevation gradually sinks in the surrounding area to zero near the ocean.  Therefore, Sri Lanka is one of the best places to experience awe-inspiring mountain scenery and breathtaking geography along with other interesting natural attractions.

Upper canopy of Siharaja forest, Biodiversity of Sri Lanka
Upper canopy of Siharaja forest reserve

Historical cities with several thousand years old monuments, historical, cultural and natural museums, trekking, mountain biking,  zip lining, mountain climbing, bird watching, rainforest exploration, safari are some of the several activities that can be performed here. The travellers also have the opportunity to engage in water-related sports such as whitewater rafting, diving, snorkelling, canoeing, kayaking, deep sea fishing, and whale watching due to the abundance of inland water resources such as rivers, canals, tanks reservoirs and the warm Indian Ocean around Sri Lanka. If you love to have more extreme adventurous sports such as rock climbing, paragliding, mountaineering, you are well on the way to accomplish your target in Sri Lanka.

Also, Sinharaja rainforest, knuckles mountain and KDN  are ideal places for people who look for less adventurous engagements such as trekking, walking, medium difficulty mountaineering. The tour operators such as Seerendipity tours provide itineraries, guide service, and equipment needed for travellers.

The underwater world off Trincomalee is the home for pigeon island marine reserve. It is located on the east coast of Sri Lanka near the beach holiday destination Nilaweli. Pigeon island marine reserve can be reached in about 15 minutes of boat ride from the mainland. It is extremely rich of fascinated underwater exotic fish species, coral reefs and various types of sea plants. It is one of the most valuable adventure jewels of Sri Lanka. Other than being a destination for snorkelling and diving, it is one of the best places for whale and dolphin watching on the East coast of the country.

Biosphere Reserve of Sinharaja is one of the most valuable natural assets of Sri Lanka. This primaeval rain forest harbours hundreds of thousands of fauna and flora species. It is the patch of forest with highest bio-diversity in the island and nearly half of the species are endemic to the country. The fragile eco-system of Sinharaja is still largely undisturbed and visitors are allowed to explore only the buffer zone of the forest. Even though you are not in the main forested area, you need to respect the nature and need to maintain the calmness without making unnecessary noise during the tour. Sinharaja is declared as world heritage site by UNESCO.

Biodiversity of Sri Lanka

The environment activist group Conservation International (CI) has identified the island as one of the bio-diversity hot-spots in the world.

Number of flowering plant species of the island estimated to be 4000 and 107 freshwater fish species, 59 amphibian species, number of reptile species 174, number of bird species 435, and number mammal species o140 with many hundreds of invertebrates

Sri Lanka posses a high percentage of endemism among its fauna and flora: endemism among the freshwater fish estimated to be 41%, it is 65% among the amphibians, Reptiles 52%, endemism estimated to be 10% with 125 species Birds, Mammals 5% while the Land Snails 80% and Freshwater crabs endemism is 100%.

The CI publication under the title “Heroes for the Planet: Earth Angles” in America suggest more preservation effort of the green cover in the region. The magazine reveals western Indian and the island Sri Lanka posses 2,180 flora species that identified uniquely to each hot-spot. Fragile eco-system in some of the tropical forests in Sri Lanka has been destroyed during the last few years mainly due to the deforestation. With the stern action against poaching and illegal timber harvesting, the island has managed to protect the remains of the green cover.

Flora – Number of species described to date in Sri Lanka

GroupNumber of described speciesPercentage endemism
Ferns and Fern allies31418
Angiosperms (Flowering plants)3,35023


Fauna – Number of species described to date in Sri Lanka

GroupNumber of described speciesPercentage endemism
Protista  (One celled animals)40+NA
Anthozoa (Corals)171NA
Annelida (Earthworms and Leeches)18NA
Monogenea (Flatworms)23+NA
Crustacea  (Prawns, crabs and allies)400NA
Mollusca (snails and allies)325NA
Arachnida (Spiders)400+NA
Pisces – Coastal fish400+NA
Pisces – Freshwater fish6139
Amphibia (Frogs and Toads)4852
Reptilia (Reptiles)16243
Aves (Birds)4415
Mammalia (Mammals)9016

Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity)

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