Ecotourism in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is one of the 25 Biodiversity hot spots of the world. The country
has the highest Biodiversity per 10,000 square km in Asia. Fifteen (15)
distinct bio regions in an area of 62,500 square km each offering different
landscapes and wildlife opportunities – with an ancient civilization contemporary
to that of the Greeks and Romans and numerous cultural sites of antiquity,
including six world heritage sites – Sri Lanka has an exotic and vibrant
resource base of Ecotourism.

Sinharaja world heritage forest

Sinharaja World Heritage Forest Sinharaja world heritage Forest is a
unique rain forest on the island which apart from very limited use by local people has been left largely undisturbed.

Biodiversity of the forest is very high, a staggering 830 of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of flora and fauna are found here, including myriad birds, reptiles and insects, while no less than sixty percent of the reserve’s trees are also
endemic to the country and some endemic to the Sinharaja Forest itself.

There are two entrances to the forest. Most popular one is
on the north side of the forest at Kudawa (see Sinharaja
trail map
), and the other one is at Mederipitiya about 11km east of Deniyaya.

Wild Life Sanctuaries and National Parks

ElephantsSri Lanka’s contains about 24 wildlife reserves, these are home to a
wide range of native species such as elephants, leopard, sloth bear, the unique small loris, a verity of deer, the purple faced leaf monkey, the endangered wild boar, porcupines and ant-eaters. Reptiles include vipers and marsh and estuarine crocodiles. Among many amphibians endemic to the country are the Nanophyrys frogs in the hills. Most of the fish are river or marsh dwelling- the trout, introduced by the British are found in the cool streams of the Horton plains.

All wildlife reserves are for the protection of wildlife and plants though
the categories differ. There are few “Strict Nature Reserves” (Ritigala,
Hakgala
), which are set aside for research work only. “National
Parks” managed by Department of wildlife conservation are open to visitation.
The largest National Parks are Ruhuna-Yala, Gal-oya, Uda Walawe,
Wilpattu, Minneriya-Girithale, Horton Plains and Wasgomuwa.
“Nature
Reserves” provide suitable habitats for wildlife by allow limited human
activity, while “Sanctuaries” allow human activities (eg. Khalle
Pallekele Sanctuary).

Forests managed by Forest department also attract ecotourists. These forests
include Sinharaja world heritage site (which is also man
and biosphere site), Kithulgala Forest Reserve, Knuckles forest
range
and the highland peak wilderness and Adams
Peak
.

Bird Sanctuaries

Bundala birdsSri Lanka also an ornithologist’s paradise with over 250 resident species,
mostly found in the wet zone. The Kumana sanctuary in the
southeast, and Bundala (famous for flamingoes), Kalametiya
and Weerawila sanctuaries between Tissamaharama and Hambantota
in the south, all with lagoons are the principal bird sanctuaries

Bellanwila-Attidiya sanctuary close to Colombo and Kurulu-kele
Vegetation in Kegalle are also some other bird watching areas.

Other sites of interest

Yagirala Forest
and Field Research station
– Rain forest situated in Kalutara
district and part of the forest is managed by Department of Forestry and Environment
Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura. This is used for field activities
of forestry students and for research, and can be reserved for visitors and
visiting foreign students and researchers (more details….).

Waterfalls
– The island is blessed with 103 rivers and streams radiating from the
central hills, rushing down rocky precipices forming a number of roaring
waterfalls of various shapes and heights, all ending up loosing the momentum
at the Indian Ocean. Some of the most picturesque waterfalls include Diyaluma,
St. Claires, Devon falls and Bopath Ella.

Wetlands – These are unique ecosystems with numerous bird life some
with mangrove vegetation. eg. Muthurajawela mangroves, Negombo mangrove
ecosystem, madu ganga
and Bolgoda
Lake
.

Botanical
Gardens
– There are three botanical gardens in Sri Lanka: Peradeniya,

Hakgala and Gampaha- Henerathgoda.

Zoological
Gardens
– Dehiwala zoo is one of the most attractive in Asia. The 15 ha
of undulating ground is beautifully laid out with shrubs, flowering trees
and plants, orchids, lakes and fountains. There are over 2000 animals include
large collection of birds, elephants, sloth bear, leopard, civets, and other
small cats, many kinds of lizard, crocodiles and snakes. Lions, tigers, jaguars,
black panthers, and many exotic species such as hippopotami, rhinos, giraffes
and kangaroos. The aquarium has over 500 species of fish.

Museums – The National Museum in Colombo 7, set in
an elegant white Neoclassical building and opened in 1877. It has a large
collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture, porcelain and Kandyan regalia.

The Natural History Museum is just behind the National Museum. Exhibits here
include stuffed leopards, pickled snakes and presentations of the islands
ecology and biodiversity.

The regular meetings of Young Biologists’ Association are
held in the third floor of the Natural History Museum building.

Elephant orphanages – Pinnewala Elephant orphanage is
one of the island’s most popular tourist attractions. Pinnewala is home to
the world’s most largest troupe of captive elephants, from dignified elderly
to the cutest of babies.