It is recorded that 700 elephants each were killed by Major Skinner and Captain Gallwey . But they were outdone by Major Rogers who killed a record of 1300 elephants in the three years he was stationed in Ceylon.
Most of the “wild” buffalo found in Sri Lanka are actually feral, having reverted to a wild state after being released or escaping from domesticity. Many are those that live a double life, penned during the dry season and released to roam the forest trails.
Wetlands, Swamps and Mangroves are an integral part of Sri Lanka’s unique ecological and biological diversity, and are vital habitats for a large variety of fauna and flora.
There are nine species of woodpeckers in Sri Lanka. This includes three endemic sub species. One of the Sri Lankan species is different, and it has no crest like the others. It also has a different nesting habit.
Today there are 250 species of turtles on earth. Seven of these live in the ocean and are called sea turtles. The remaining 243 species live on land or in freshwater ponds and marshes. The terrestrial turtles, those that live solely on land, are called tortoises.
In Sri Lanka we have seven species of kingfishers. They are the Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), the Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), the Ceylon Blue-eared Kingfisher (Alcedo meninting), the Three-toed Kingfisher (Ceyx erithacus), the Stork-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopis capensis),the White-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) and the Black-capped Purple Kingfisher (Halcyon pileata).
Biological diversity or biodiversity, refers to the variety of life in all its forms including plants, animals and microbes that exist and interact in the various biological communities and ecosystems.
Nocturnal animals sleep during the day, often in a burrow or den. When their ‘day’ begins, they move out slowly from wherever they have been spending the daylight hours and with the disappearing shadows, the forest comes alive with footfalls, scuttles, the soft beating of wings and screeches etc.
There are four groups of marine mammals in the seas around Sri Lanka. They are the Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises and Dugongs. Since the first three groups belong to the scientific order Cetacea, they are referred to as cetaceans.
Squirrels are mammals and belong to the Order Rodentia and the Family Sciuridae. They are rodents like common rats. Squirrels are found in Europe, the Americas and Asia.
There are 353 species of parrots in the world. They are in two groups, the true parrots in the family Psittacidae and the cocatoos in the family Cacatuidae. The shape of the beak, which is curved, characterizes these birds.
Pangolins are mammals that belong to the Family Manidae and the Genus Manis. This genus comprises of eight species – Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, Pangwan, Giant, Cape, Tree and the Long-tailed, that are spread over in Southeast Asia and Africa. There are four species in Africa and four in Southeast Asia.
Sri Lanka has over 103 river basins. Covering an area of 59,217 hectares, Sri Lanka has no natural lakes. However there are over 12,000 man made lakes (tanks) in the island. Tanks or man made reservoirs make up the main water bodies in the dry zone.
The association of Elephants in Sri Lanka and the man goes back to the pre-Christian era. There was an abundance of elephants in the country in those early days. The ancient Sinhalese kings captured and tamed elephants for their use.
There are 294 species of snakes in the world and 96 are found in Sri Lanka. Of these, 50 species are endemic to the island. There are 13 species of sea snakes and 10 species of blind snakes in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has two species of crocodiles. One is the Mugger or Marsh Crocodile (Hela Kimbula) and the other is Saltwater Crocodile (Geta Kimbula).
In Sri Lanka, bears are found in the lowland forests. It is not found in the forests of the higher elevations nor in the south-west of the island. The Sri Lankan bear has coal black, shaggy and coarse hair all over its body including the ears.
NATURE has provided us with many beautiful things that we continue to admire each day – birds, flowers, butterflies, trees, shrubs etc. Of all those that we admire so much and marvel at their beauty, butterflies are what many of us know least about.
Sri Lanka has recorded 436 species of birds. They can be separated into two types – resident birds ie birds that live in this country throughout and migrant birds
There are 36 species of wild cats in the world based on physical distinction and/or geographic separation, most species are further divided into sub species.
There are four species of true deer in Sri Lanka – Sambur (Cervus unicolor), Spotted Deer (Axis axis), Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntiacus) and Hog Deer (Axis pornicus).
There are five ‘lizard like’ reptiles that I will deal with in this article. They are the Agamid lizards, Geckos, Chameleons and Monitor Lizards. The agamid lizards are called Katussa in Sinhala and Onnan or Karata in Tamil.
Sri Lanka is one of the world’s bio diversity hot-spots. This means that we have a wide range of biological species, fauna and flora, in a variety of habitats. This article deals with the different forest types in Sri Lanka.