Spotting black leopard in Sri Lanka

The sacred mountain teeming one of the rarest carnivores of Sri Lanka, the black leopard, when can we see it again.

After a lapse of decade wildlife authorities of Sri Lanka have been able to spot a black leopard, which believed to be extinct from the Sri Lankan jungles since 2009.

Location of peak wilderness

Located on the western slope of Sri Lanka’s central mountain range, peak wilderness sandwiched between the Indian Ocean and Sri Lanka’s hill country. The dense tropical forest of peak wilderness is one of the largest patches of rain forests on the island. This natural jewel is still one of the least explored patches of forests on earth. Unlike most other forests such as Sinharaja, knuckles forest, scientists have barely scratched the dense foliage of peak wilderness.

It is highly unlikely that you get Sri Lanka tour packages to visit peak wilderness because peak wilderness is not considered as an important tourist site to visit on Sri Lanka trips, mainly because it is an off the beaten track tourist attraction and not facilities available for travellers.

Expansion of peak wilderness

The 224 square kilometres forest is mainly covered by dense 4 layers of trees and plant. The 4 layers of trees and plants that can be identified with the naked eyes, the 4 layers are grass, bush, canopy and upper canopy. Canopy and upper canopy are made of trees that rise between 25-35 meter from the ground. There may be giant trees that rise even up to 50 meters.

Peak wilderness is a very valuable biosphere reserve with high biodiversity. Apart from housing a large number of Fauna and Flora as well as being the home to the sacred footprint of Buddha, peak wilderness act as an important greenhouse gas-emissions absorbent.

Importance of peak wilderness

Peak wilderness with Adams peak act as a valuable catchment area. Some of the most popular rivers such as Kelaniya river, Kalu liver, Walawe and  Mahaweli River begins in the Adams peak.

Peak wilderness possesses one of the most visited tourist and religious sites in Sri Lanka, Adams peak. Despite the thousands of pilgrims that conquer the Adams peak every year, the natural wealth of peak wilderness is unknown to most people in Sri Lanka.

Peak wilderness does not become a subject for discussion usually. However, it has been able to draw the attention of the people of Sri Lanka, as it has hosted one of the rarest creatures on earth, the black leopard.

Sri Lankan leopard

Leopards Sri Lankan jungles such as Yala, Wilpattu national parks are frequented by leopards, in fact, Yala is one of the best places to see leopards in the world, due to high concentration of them in the park. It is believed that about 800 leopards are roaming in Sri Lankan jungles.  However, spotting a black leopard is cannot be guaranteed, because it is very rare.

Spotting back leopards in Sri Lanka

The biologists had been able to detect a black leopard in peak wilderness in 2009, however, the creature was killed by the time it was discovered and it was trapped in a snare. Since then no one had been able to witness this rare creature, the biologists, as well as naturalist, thought that black leopards had left us forever. However, the unexpected, good news was heard over every news channel on the 26th October 2019, which confirmed the rediscovery of a leopard in the peak wilderness.

Unfortunately, the black leopard that was detected in 2019 was also killed a few months later, due to the habit of illegal hunting using the snares. There had been a lot of controversy with regards to the demise of this well grown black leopard. The naturalist was in the opine that improper handling of wounded animal had been the main reason for its death. Some animal welfare organizations have even filed a court case against bad handling of a wounded black leopard.

However, it was later revealed the internal bleeding had caused the death of the animal and it was confirmed in the post mortem.    

There had been many types of research on the island to figure out the population of leopard in Sri Lanka. Researchers, as well as naturalists, have been scouring untouched terrain of peak wilderness, with the hope of finding another black coloured carnivore. Spotting a well-grown black leopard was quite unexpected in 2019 and it was a good reason for the country to celebrate. Because most people of Sri Lanka did not even know that black leopards lived on the island.

Despite the high concentration of leopards in Yala national park, which consist of dry zone forest and warm, dry climate, the Black leopard has not been detected in Yala national park.

According to the biologists, it is the climate conditions that change the colour of the leopard. The peak wilderness is a rainforest with a cool climate. The black leopards originated due to the temperature fluctuation in the habitat. On the other hand, being black coloured, other animals cannot spot leopards easily in the gloomy environment of the rain forest.

The upper canopy and canopy of the rainforest block the sun rays making it dark between earth surface and the canopy. The canopy and the upper canopy also trap the dampness in the forest.  

Now the naturalist, as well as researchers, are again in search of this rare species in the peak wilderness, the luck is not on our side so far. But, most people are very optimistic that good news will be aired very soon.

Sri Lankan black leopard is it a new species

The black leopard had emerged only from the peak wilderness so far. According to the biologists, the origin of this magnificent beast is closely correlated with the unique climate conditions of the forest. However, there are 2 controversial theories with regards to the black leopard. Some people claim that black leopard is not coming under Sri Lanak leopards while some say that it is so. But according to the biologists’ black leopard is a melanistic colour variant of the Sri Lankan leopard.

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