Sinharaja Rainforest
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Author:  LankaLibrary [ Sun Apr 24, 2005 4:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Sinharaja Rainforest

Sinharaja Rainforest

Dark, wet, mysterious and thick with vegetation, situated in the southwest lowland Wet Zone, Sinharaja is the last patch of sizeable lowland evergreen rain forest still remaining more or less intact or undisturbed in the island. It is a place for meditation, contemplation, relaxation and for scientific exploration.

The forest is steeped in legend and mystery. The word Sinharaja means lion (Sinha) king (raja) and the legend goes that the origin of the Sinhala people in Sri Lanka began with the union of the lion king, who once lived in the forest, and a princess.

Sinharaja was initially declared a Man & Biosphere Reserve in 1978 for its representation of Tropical Humid Evergreen Forest eco-system in Sri Lanka and had been recognized by UNESCO as part of its International Network of Biosphere Reserves. Subsequently, in 1988, it was declared a National Wilderness Area, under the National Heritage Wilderness Area Act and in 1989 it received the great honour of being declared a World Heritage Site.

The forest covers an area of approximately 11,187 hectares. From east to west the length of the forest is about 21 km and from north to south, it is about 3.7 km in width.

It is situated in the southwest lowland wet zone of the country in the districts of Ratnapura, Galle and Matara. The average annual temperature of Sinharaja is 23.6o C. Annual rainfall is more than 2500mm.The rain fall is well distributed during two monsoons, May to July and October to December.

The endemic species of fauna and flora found in the Sinharaja are fascinating. Rare orchids and valuable medicinal plants are found here. Ferns, climbers and parasites are some of the intriguing components of the forest as well as the extremely rare flowering plants that are found by the thousands.

Ferns are plants with feather-like leaves bearing reproductive parts. Climbers are also called creepers. These are plants that make their way up using another plant or tree trunk as a prop. A parasite is a plant which hangs on a tree. The parasite grows by drawing nutrients from the tree.

Studies on the fauna of Sinharaja have revealed that there is a high degree of endemism among the butterflies, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Felis viverinnas (Fishing Cat) at Sinharaja

There have been reports of sightings of a few animals in the eastern Sector. The most common deer species is the Sambhur. The Monk deer and Barking deer are also found within the reserve. Leopards are very seldom sighted, but their frequent presence has been confirmed by tracks and other signs. Badger Mongoose and the Golden Palm Civet have been occasionally sighted. The most commonly seen primate is the Purple - faced Leaf Monkey. Although elephants are said to have been common in the past, there have not been reports of sightings during the last 15 years.

Read More:

- Vignettes of Sinharaja

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