Biodiversity Hotspots

“The global importance of the island’s biodiversity has placed Sri Lanka together with the Western Ghats of India among the 34 biodiversity hotspots in the world”.

Sri Lanka island in the Indian Ocean located close to the equator. Between latitudes 5°.55′ – 9°.50′ north and longitudes 79°.42′ – 81°.52′ east and area – 65610 sq km. Sri Lanka is a fragment of an ancient south continent Gondwanaland. Both India and Sri Lanka stand on the same continental shelf.

About 90 percent of the land is consists of Precambrian crystalline rocks, separated from the mainland since the late Miocene.era. Island has experienced a series of geological events, including folding as well as uplifting movements that have resulted in different elevation levels. The central highlands, the southwestern plain, the southeastern plain and the northern plain. This connection is believed to have favored the spread of fauna from the mainland of India to Sri Lanka and periods of isolation resulted in the evolution of new species. Species are the group of individual organisms that are capable of interbreeding to produce fertile offspring in nature. Dominant species are the species that predominate in an ecological community, particularly they are most numerous or form the bulk of the biomass.

Sri Lanka has a tropical climate with distinct rainy and dry seasons. The monsoon rains bring the higher percentage of annual rainfall while inter-monsoon rains also contribute to the annual rainfall significantly. On the basis of this climatic regimes are Wet, Dry, Intermediate, and Arid.

Sri Lanka’s Biodiversity Despite its small size of 6,524,540 hectares, has a varied climate and topography, which has resulted in rich biodiversity, distributed within a wide range of ecosystems. Sri Lanka’s biodiversity is considered to be the richest per unit area in the Asian region with regard to mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and flowering plants; overtaking megadiversity countries Malaysia, Indonesia and India.

Fauna of Sri Lanka

Mainly divide animals into two main groups as Invertebrates and Vertebrates. Invertebrates, like earthworms, have no hard parts or like insects, have a hard exoskeleton covering the soft parts of the body. The Vertebrates have backbones and skeletons, Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals. Amphibians are a group of animals that include modern- day.

Fogs and toads, caecilians, newts and salamanders. A list of all insect species recorded from Sri Lanka found the names of 11,144 species belonging to 30 insect orders. The order Lepidoptera is the second largest insect Order in the county with 2,158 species. The Coleoptera of Sri Lanka includes at least 3,033 species. The order Diptera is the fourth largest insect order in Sri Lanka, consisting of 1,341 species. There are over 794 species of Hemiptera recorded from Sri Lanka, There are records of 66 species of Blattaria (cockroaches) in Sri Lanka.

From Sri Lanka, 148 species of bees in 38 genera and 4 families have been recorded. Dragonfly Fauna (Insecta: Odonata) of Sri Lanka… altogether 116 described dragonfly species from 12 families occur in Sri Lanka. Currently, four new endemic species are in the process of description endemic representatives to a total of 57 taxa. Sri Lanka’s freshwater crabs since the early 1990s have resulted in the discovery of several new crab species in the island, with 51 species being described to date. Land snails in Sri Lanka form a highly diverse group. Of the 246 land snail species recorded from the island, 83% are endemic to the country. Sri Lankan spider fauna consists of about 501 known species, under 45 families.

The total butterfly species in Sri Lanka described to date includes 243 species, classified under five families. This includes 20 species that are endemic to the island. Their distribution in Sri Lanka is governed by climate, topography and vegetation types. In general, higher species richness of butterflies occurs in the foothill areas. Several species of butterflies exhibit mass migrations, usually from the Dry and Arid zones towards the Intermediate and Wet Zones.

Sri Lanka with a forest cover of approximately 23% of total land area, is known to be of great conservation importance, highlighted by the presence of rich endemic fauna and flora. The island is classified as global biodiversity ‘hot spots’ with an extraordinary level of endemism, and with an imminent threat of habitat loss. The tropical rainforests in the south-west of Sri Lanka have been reduced to a great extent during the past five decades, and at present, the near-primary forest cover accounts for less than 5% of the land area of the biodiversity-rich Wet Zone of the island. The existing forest patches of the wet zone are in a severely fragmented state.

Status of Vertebrate Fauna in Sri Lanka

The species richness of freshwater fish in Sri Lanka, which consist of 82 species, including 44 endemics. As at now, descriptions of 102 valid amphibian species have been published. 184 Reptile species occur in the island, of which 105 are endemic. There are 91 species of indigenous mammals in Sri Lanka, of which 16 species are endemic to the island. 26 species of marine mammals have been recorded from the maritime zone of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan Elephant (Elephas maximus Maximus)

Birds

Birds are a diverse group, and their bright colors, distinct songs and calls, and showy displays add enjoyment to our lives. Birds are very visible, quite common, and offer easy opportunities to observe their diverse plumage and behaviors. Bird watching is the fastest growing recreational pursuit among most of the nature lovers. Some birds transport a variety of things through the environment. For example, seed and fruit-eating birds serve to spread seeds of various plants, thereby helping in plant dispersal. Sunbirds and flowerpeckers pollinate various nectar-producing plants, transporting pollen on their beaks and feathers from one flower to the next. Some wading birds relocate fish eggs that get stuck to their legs, thereby aiding in fish dispersal to other parts of a river or marsh.

Bird watching in Srilanka Birds come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, and announce their presence with a variety of calls, songs, drumming and displays. Because of their visibility, birds lend themselves well to those interested in monitoring wildlife. Getting a general idea of size will help narrow down your choices and make it easier once you begin looking at other details of a bird’s appearance. The next thing you should focus on is plumage or feathers. When looking at birds, one should focus on key color patterns and shapes of the plumage. These patterns and shapes are called field marks. Some birds have solid colors, while others have stripes on their wings (wing bars), stripes on their face (chin stripes), stripes across their eyes (eye stripes and lines), or stripes on the top of their head (crown lines and stripes). Some birds also have marks on their tails (terminal bands, etc.), their breast (breast streaks and spots), or around their eyes (eye rings), the shapes and sizes of beaks. That plumage can change color and pattern with the seasons, so some of these marks may not be visible all year. The movement of birds from their breeding grounds to another area to avoid seasonally adverse climatic conditions and the subsequent return to their original breeding grounds is referred to as migration. Commonly it is north-south but east-west also. Sri Lanka as an important location in the Indian Ocean for migratory birds coming to Sri Lanka traverse the Indian subcontinent along two main routes – the eastern and western routes. Of the 492 different species of birds have been recorded in Sri Lanka, about 169 are migrants and 219 species are breeding residents.

Sri Lanka is home to 26 endemic bird species and seven proposed endemic species.

In recent years Sri Lanka shores have become known for her Marine mammals,

Whales and dolphins, Blue Whale, Bryde’s Whale, Sperm Whale, Humpback Whale, Omura’s Whale, Killer whale, Whale shark.

Protected Areas

Protected areas are administrated by Department of Forest Conservation (FD) and Department of Wildlife Conservation of Sri Lanka ( DWLC) with series of environmental laws, rules, and regulations. The Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. National Heritage Wilderness Act. Plant Protection Act.

Strict Nature Reserves

Visitors are not allowed to enter these except to carry out Scientific Research under permission these are Hakgala 1,142 hectares, Ritigala 1528 hectares Yala 28,905 hectares.

Buffer Zones – Declared lands around protected areas

Jungle Corridors – Declared areas of habitats which are preserved in order to connect larger protected areas (PA)

Marine Reserves – Declared areas to conserve marine ecosystems

Sanctuaries – No need prior permission to enter these, but disturbing or harming wildlife is prohibited within

National Parks – areas allowed for the public to see and study wildlife. However necessary rules and regulations are introduced to protect wildlife and their habitats.