WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka

 

THE LEGENDARY SINHARAJA 

THE FAUNA OF SINHARAJA

The complex vegetation structure of the rain forest provides a variety of dwelling places or niches for animals. Thus, not surprisingly, there is a rich diversity of fauna within a rain forest. Animals are often thought to be a passive or dependent component of the ecosystem that do not contribute actively to the continuity and growth of the forest. This, however, is contrary to the true facts. Although dependent on plants for food, animals also carry out functions vital to the growth of plants such as pollination and seed dispersal. These interaction and seed dispersal. These interaction are often complex and highly specialized, and have developed as plants and animals evolved together over millions of years. Studies on rain forest fauna, however, are relatively recent and little is known of their strategies for survival, and of the details of the role they play in propagating rain forest floral species. 

 

Unlike the flora, the fauna of the Sinharaja has received comparatively little attention, and descriptions of the fauna had been limited to the occasional report had been limited to the occasional report by enthusiasts. It was only as recently as 1981 that preliminary systematic investigation were initiated. These studies were confined to the western sector of the Reserve, the sector which had been seriously disturbed by the logging project of the 1970's, and were carried out mainly to determine the effects of logging and deforestation on small mammals. However, during this project a determined effort was also made to identify and inventorize the fauna in general, a very necessary task in view of the scarcity of information.

To date, a check-list of 262vertebrate species has been complied which includes 60 species endemic to Sri Lanka. Table 8 gives an analysis of the fauna of Sinharaja in relation to the total fauna of Sinharaja in relation to the total fauna of the Island. From this Table it is evident that there is a high degree of representation of the island's fauna, particularly endemic species at Sinharaja. At the moment, this check-list is the only one all the major vertebrate groups found in a single location.
 

Table 8. Endemic and non-endemic vertebrate fauna of Sinharaja

  in relation to the fauna in Sri Lanka.

Vertebrate Group

Total no. of spa. in Sri Lanka No. of sps. in Sinharaja % of sps. in Sinharaja No. of endemic sps. in Sri Lanka No. of endemic sps. in Sinharaja % of endemic sps. at Sinharaja % of endemics out of total in sinharaja.
Fish 59 11 19% 16 3 19% 27%
Amphibia 37 20 54% 19 10 53% 50%
Reptiles
  Snakes
  Tetrapod
             
65 16 25% 34 6 18% 36%
79 29 37% 38 15 39% 52%
Birds 384 147 38% 20 18 90% 12%
Mammals 85 39 46% 12 8 67% 20%
Total 709 262 36% 139 60 43% 23%

Mammals 

In sinharaja, as in any rain forest, the presence of larger mammals is indicated in the form of droppings, tracks, calls ect. The terrain and structure of the forest, however, make visual sightings comparatively difficult.

The Purple-faced leaf Monkey is perhaps the most observable of the mammals. These monkey move in grounds of 10 to 14, high up in forest canopy and their territorial calls echo for ,miles around the forest. The Toque Monkey is rare the forest but is more commonly observed in the peripheral areas.

Purple-faced Leaf Monkey (Presbytes senex vetulus) 

The monkey locally called hali-wandura (Presbytes senex vetulus) is an endemic animal commonly found in this forest. It is a vegetarian, feeding on leaves, fruits and flowers on top of the canopy.     

Several large mammals are characteristically terrestrial and feed off the forest floor. This group includes herbivorous browsers and mixed feeders, such as the Wild Pig, the Sambhur, the Mouse Deer and the Barking Deer. Although Elephants were common in the periphery of the forest before the logging project, they have not been sighted in the western sector since 1974. However, a small group has been reported in the remnant grassland patches of the Handapan-Ella and Thangamali plains which are contiguous with the northeastern part of the forest.

The major carnivore of the forest is the Leopard. Leopards are seldom sighted but their presence is frequently confirmed by tracks and other sings. Genuinely rare are the Rusty-spotted Cat and the Fishing Cat, while in the periphery of the forest.  

Prionailurus rubiginosa (Rusty Spotted Cat)

Felis viverinnas (Fishing Cat)

Of the nocturnal species, the two commonly recorded are the civets and the mongooses. Among these are Civet, an endemic species, and the Striped-necked Mongoose. The Sighting of the latter in 1982 was particularly in sinharaja are mainly rats, shrews and squirrels. Several significant sightings have been made in this group. The Bicoloured Rat and the Spiny Rat, both endemic genera, were found here, as were the endemic species of shrews, the Long-tailed Shrew and the Horsefield's Shrew. The Bi-coloured Rat and the Long-tailed Shrew have been recorded earlier only at elevations of 1,000 meters and above. The records for Sinharaja at 300 to 500 meters show that they have a considerably wider distribution than thought earlier. The Horsefield's Shrew too had earlier been recorded only in the eastern range of the central hills, hence the sightings at Sinharaja mark the first record of its occurrence in the wet lowlands. 

The small mammals in particular formed the focus of quantitative studies carried out in the early 1980's. the results of comparative studies in three different types of habitats, viz. underscored the importance of undisturbed forests for the survival of endemic species. "The Bicoloured Rat, for example, which was predominant in natural sites disappeared at the slightest disturbance. This indicated the high habitat sensitivity of species. On the other hand, the species such as the spiny Rat appeared to be more adaptable and seemed able to exploit natural forest gaps as well as disturbed sites such as logged forest. There is also clear evidence that natural species are beging repidly displaced by aggressive commensals such as the Bandicoot and the Common House Rat.

There species of squirrels are common in the forest, the Flame-striped Jungle Squirrel, the Dusky-striped Jungle Squirrel and the Western Giant Squirrel. The latter is an arboreal species; so is the Flying Squirrel seen at dusk. Among other mammals recorded in the forest are the Porcupine and the Pangolin.

Bats are a characteristic group of mammals in the Asian tropics. Six species have been recorded in sinharaja, all of which are insectivorous species. It is interesting that the familiar Flying Fox or Fruit Bat has not been recorded in the forest. The only frugivorous species observed, the Short-nosed Fruit Bat has been sighted at Kudawa, on the outskirts of the forest.

                        A complete list of all mammals sighted at Sinharaja is given in Table 9.       

Table 9. Mammals of the Sinharaja
Common Name Scientific Name
Large mammals
   Elephant Elephas maximus maximus
   Sambhur Cervus unicolour
   Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak malabaricus
   Mouse Deer Tragulus meminna
   Wild Pig Sus scrofa cristatus
   Leopard Panthera pardus fusca
   Fishing Cat Zibethailurus viverrina
   Rusty Spotted Cat Prionailurus rubiginosa
  *Western Purple-Faced Leaf Monkey Presbytis senes vetulus
   Jackal Canis aureus lanka
  *Western Toque Macaque Macaca sinica aurifrons
Small mammals
**Sri Lanka Bi-coloured Rat Srilankamis ohiensis
**Spiny Rat Coelomys mayori pococki
   House Rat Rattus rattus kandiyanus
   House Rat Rattus rattus kelaarti
   Greater Bandicoot Rat Bandicota indica
   Field Mouse Mus cervicolour fulvidiventris
  *Sri Lanka Long-tailed Shrew Crocidura miya
   Horsefield's Shrew Crocidura horsefieldi
  *House Shrew Suncus ceylanicus
   Western giant Squirrel Ratufa macroura melanochra
   Flame-striped Jungle Squirrel Funambulus layardi laysrdi
   Dusky-striped Jungle Squirrel Funambulus sublineatus obscurus
   Small Flying Squirrel Petynomys fuscocapillus layardi
  *Golden-palm Civet Paradoxurus zeylonensis
   Ringed-tail Civet Viverricula indica mayori
   Brown Mongoose Herpestes fuscus rubidior
   Stripe-necked Mongoose Herpestes vitticollis
   Otter Lutra lutra nair
   Porcupine Hystrix indica
   Pangolin Manis crassicaudata
Forest Bats
   Rufous Horse-shoe Bat Rhinolophus rouxi rouxi
   Great Horse-shoe Bat Rhinolophus luctus sobrinus
   Great Leaf-nosed Bat Hipposideros lankadiva
   False Vampire Bat Megaderma spasma ceylonense
   Kelaart's Pipistrel Bat Pipistrellus ceylonicus
   Painted Bat Kirivoula picta
   Short-nosed Fruit Bat Cynopterus sphinx
* Endemic species            ** Endemic genera
 
Birds

The Sinharaja Reserve is rich in bird life with an impressive 147 species recorded to date. It is also the only locality where 18 out of 20 birds species endemic to Sri Lanka may be viewed. Many of these endemic birds have been indicated in Table 10 and Figure 11. Interestingly, few endemic and other species thought to be confined to the hill-zone have also been sighted at Sinharaja viz. the White-eye, the Scaly Thrush (Zoothera dauma), the Wood Pigeon (Columba torrigtoni), the Dusky Blue Flycatcher (Muscicapa sordida) and the Yellow-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus penicillatus). The wide variety of habitat-specific birds seen in Sinharaja is due to the continuous expanse of forest ranging from 300 to 1,500 meters, which provides the habitat of the forest is comparatively better studied than the other groups of animals. These studies include an inventory of the species; more detailed studies on population dynamics, feeding activity and other behavior patterns are currently in progress.

Among the birds recorded in the western sector of the Sinharaja, 13% were migrants. Of the resident species, 18% were confined to the heavily forested areas and 10% to village home-gardens and peripheral scrub areas. At least 36% of the species were common to the forest as well as to outside habitats. This is mainly due to the spread of secondary scrub areas into the forest particularly along logging roads. Data available indicates that most bird species are habitat sensitive and likely to be eliminated if forest areas are disturbed. 56% of the species are either rare or have low population densities. Of the 42% classified as common, a large proportion, 68% were confined to heavily forested undisturbed areas. Meanwhile, the International Council for Birds Preservation (ICBP) world list of threatened bird species for 1989, includes several species found at Sinharaja such as the Blue Magpie, the White-headed Starling, the Ashy-headed Babbler, the Green-billed Coucal, the Red-faced Malkoha, the Spotted-winged Thrush and the Wood Pigeon.

  

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie-(Urocissa ornata)

This beautiful endemic bird is most appropriately called locally as "Kehibella"-meaning "beautiful damsel of the forest" according to same etymologists it is a social species living in small groups of 4 - 6 individuals outside the breeding season. During the breeding season the pairs move out but remain not far away from the rest of its social members. they feed mainly on insects, small lizards ect. Its distribution is confined to the forest away from human habitations. 

Mixed species bird flocks are one of the most interesting experiences of the forest. This peculiar aggregation of birds, is thought to be a strategy for improving feeding efficiency and protection against predators. Observations made on at least 100 such flock at Sinharaja, revel that over 40 species of birds, including 12 endemic species, participate in flocks (Table 10). Bird flocks shows a distribution pattern that corresponds closely with the stratified vegetation structure. Different groups of species occupy the forest floor, undergrowth, mid canopy and high canopy (Figure 11). Flocks are also regularly accompanied by animals such as the Giant Squirrel, the Jungle Squirrel, the Purple-faced Leaf Monkey and the Mouse Deer.

Bird ringing has also been carried out regularly at Sinharaja since 1983, mainly to determine the home-range of bird species. So far 164 birds belonging to 32 species have been ringed. This method is also useful for the study of migrant species. In the Sinharaja, three important migrant species have been captured, the Layard's Flycatcher, the Indian Blue Chat and the Broen Shrike. These were recaptured in the same location during successive year, indicating site specificity of species during migration.                

                                            

 

Table 10. Status of participant species in the mixed-species foraging bird flocks.

Flock Status Common Name Species Name

Percentage occurrence in flocks

Nuclear
      species
  Crested Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus 86
*Sri Lanka Rufous Babbler Turdoides rufescens 82
*Yellow-fronted Barbet Megalaima flavifrons 73
*Sri Lanka White-eye Zosterops ceylonensis 63
 Yellow-browed Bulbul Hypsipetes indicus 61
*White-headed Starling Sturnus senex 53
Regular  Trogon Harpactes fasciatus 47
 Orange Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus 46
 Yellow-naped Woodpecker Picus chlorolophus 46
 Red-faced Malkoha Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus 45
*Ashy-headed Babbler Garrulax cinereifrons 42
 Azure Flycatcher Monarcha azurea 39
 Pied Shrike Hemipus picatus 36
 Black-fronted Babbler Rhopocichla atriceps 34
*Legge's Flowerpecker Dicaeum vincens 33
 Tickell's Flowerpecker Dicaeum erythrorhynchos 33
 Velvet-fronted Nuthatch Sitta frontalis 31
Occasional *Layard's Parakeet Psittacula calthorpae 29
 Black-capped Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus 29
 Southern Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus horsfieldii 25
 Black Bulbul Hypsipetes madagascariensis 23
 Crimson-backed Woodpecker Chrysocolaptes lucidus 23
Rare  Purple-rumped Sunbird Nectarinia zeylonica 17
*Sri Lanka Grackle Gracula ptilogenys 16
 Greenish Tree-Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides 14
*Sri Lanka Lorikeet Loriculus beryllinus 12
 Orange-breasted Blue Flycatcher Muscicapa tickelliae 12
 White-vented Drongo Dicrurus caerulescens 11
Very rare  Common Iora Aegithina tiphia 10
 Large-billed Tree-Warbler Phylloscopus magnirostris 08
 Grey Tit Parus major 07
 Gold-fronted Chloropsis Chloropsis aurifrons 07
 Black-headed Oriole Oriolus xanthornus 07
 Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi 03
*Spotted-winged Thrush Zoothera spiloptera 02
 Bronze-winged Dove Chalcophaps indica 02
 Red-winged Crested-Cuckoo Clamator coromandus 1
 White-backed Munia Lonchura striata 1
 Brown Shrike Lanius criststus 1
 Black-headed Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina melanoptera 1
 *Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler Pellorneum fuscocapillum 1
 Indian Blue Chat Erithacus brunneus 1
* Endemic species
 

Figure 11. Distribution of birds within the forest canopy.

 
Common Name Scientific Name Common Name Scientific Name
 1 Crested Serpent-Eagle Spilornis cheela 23 *Sri Lanka Rufous Babbler (F)
 2 Mountain Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus nipalensis 24 Southern Scimitar Babbler (F)
 3 Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis 25 Purple-rumped Sunbird (F)
 4 Black Bulbul (F) 26 *Green-billed Coucal Centropus Chlororhynchus
 5 *Whire-headed Starling (F) 27 Yellow-browed Bulbul (F)
 6 Broad-billed Roller Eurystomus orientalis 28 Black-capped Bulbul (F)
 7 *Sri Lanka Lorikeet (F) 29 Trogon (F)
 8 *Sri Lanka Grackle (F) 30 Common Iora (F)
 9 Red-faced Malkoha (F) 31 Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (F)
10 *Layard's Parakeet (F) 32 Crimson-backed Woodpecker (F)
11 Orange Minivet (F) 33 Yellow-naped Woodpecker (F)
12 Crested Drongo (F) 34 *Ashy-headed Babbler (F)
13 White-vented Drongo (F) 35 Orange-brested Blue Flycatcher (F)
14 Grey Tit (F) 36 Black-fronted Babbler (F)
15 Gold-fronted Chloropsis (F) 37 *Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler (F)
16 *Yellow-fronted Barbet (F) 38 *Spotted-winged Thrush (F)
17 Pied Shrike (F) 39 *Sri Lanka Spurfowl Galloperdix bicalcarata
18 *Sri Lanka Blue Magpie Cissa ornata 40 *Sri Lanka Junglefoel Gallus lafayettii
19 Azure Flycatcher (F)  
20 *Sri Lanka White-Eye (F)
21 *Legge's Flowerpecker (F)
22 Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus

 

Reptiles

The reptilian fauna of Sinharaja is represented by 45 species, of while 21 are endemic. This includes a large proportion of snakes, several lizards, tortoises and skinks (Table 9). Among the snakes, two very rare species have been recorded. These are the burrowing fossorial species Rhinophis tricolorata and Haploceros ceylonensis. Rhinophis was first described as recently as 1975 and was sighted at Sinharaja in 1982, the first time it was found in the wild. Haploceros was considered to be a rare montane species found at elevations of 1,700 to 2,300 meters, until it was recorded in Sinharaja at elevations of 300 to 500 meters

Among the venomous species that occur in the forest are the Green-pitviper while is arboreal, the Hump-nosed Viper and the Krait while frequents the forest floor. The Cobra is seen occasionally while the Russel's Viper has been observed in secondary vegetation, although not seen in the undisturbed forest.

Among the lizards, the commonest is the familiar Green Garden Lizard. Several rare and endemic species of lizards are found in the forest (Table 11). Among these are Calotes liopepis, an arboreal species while is one of the rarest the island, the Hump-nosed Lizard, the largest lizard in the island; the Earless Lizard and the Rough-nose Horned Lizard are species of the forest floor with very restricted distribution being confined to undisturbed rain forests. A few species of geckos are also common.

The skinks found in the wet-zone of Sri Lanka are of evolutionary significance. The five genera of limbless lizards or the Acintoniae exhibit a progressive series from limbed to limbless forms. The only other centres of distribution of these genera are Madagascar and South Africa. In the Sinharaja, this group is represented by Nessia burtoni or the Three-toed Skink, an endemic genus. However, it is most likely that several more species of unidentified skinks may be present.   

Table 11. Some common and important reptiles of Sinharaja.

Common Name

Species Name

 Snakes
  *Green-pit Viper  Trimerasurus trinoncephalus
   Merrem's Hump-nosed Viper  Hypnale hypnale
   Walli's Hump-nosed Viper  Hypnale walli
   Russell's Viper  Vipera russelli
  *Sri Lanka Krait  Bungarus ceylonicus
   Common Cobra  Naja naja 
  *Sri Lanka Wolf-snake    Cercaspis carinatus
  *Barnes Cat Snake   Boiga barnesi
  *Kukri snake  Oligodon calamarius
  *Dumeril's Kukri Snake  Oligodon sublinensis
 **Blossom Krait  Balanophis ceylonensis
 **Drummond-hays Rough Snake  Aspidura drummondhayi
  *Gunther's Bronze-back  Dendrelaphis caudolineolatus
   Green-whip Snake  Dryophis nasutus
   Brown-speckled Whip Snake  Dryophis pulverulentus
   Ornate Flying Snake  Chrysopelea ornata
  *Chequered Keelback  Xenochrophis asperrimus
   Python  Python molurus
  *Sri Lanka Pipe Snake   Cylindrophis maculatus
  *Deraniyagala's Earth Snake  Rhinophis tricolorata
 **Black-spined Snake  Haplocercus ceylonensis
Lizards and Geckoes 
   Green Garden Lizerd  Calotes calotes
  *-  Calotes liolepis
 **Hump-nosed Lizard  Lyiocephalus scutatus
  *Earless Lizard  Otriocephalus scutatus
 **Rough-nose Horned Lizard  Ceratophora aspera
  *Great Forest Gecko   Gymnodactylus frenatus
   Jungle Gecko  Cnemaspis kandianus
   Water Monitor  Varanus monitor
Skinks 
   Rat-snake Skink  Mabuya carinata
   Spotted Skink  Mabuya macularia
   Smooth Skink  Sphenomorphus taprobanensis
 **Three-toed Snake Skink  Nessia burtoni

 

* Endemic species ** Endemic genera

Amphibians

The rain forest is the habitat parexcellence for amphibians. It is not surprising therefore that half the total number of amphibian species in sri Lanka and nearly half the endemic amphibian are represented in Sinharaja. These amphibians are mainly frogs and toads and a single limbless form (Table 12).

Table 12. Amphibians of Sinharaja.

Common Name

Species Name

  *Wrinkled Frog  Rana corrugata
   Sri Lanka Reed Frog  Rana greeni
  *Lesser Wood Frog  Rana aurantiaca
  *Slender Wood frog  Rana gracilis
**Guenther's Cliff Frog  Nannophrys guentheri
  *Sharp nosed Tree Frog  Rhacophorus nasutus
   Small-eared Tree Frog  Rhacophorus microtympanum 
  *Greater Hourglass Tree Frog  Rhacophorus cruciger
  *Wrinkled Tree Frog   Philautus schmardanus
   Variable Tree Frog  Philautus variabilis
   Lesser Sharp-nosed Tree Frog  Philautus nasutus
  *Red Ramanella  Ramnella palmata
   Common Toad  Bufo melanostictus
  *Torrent Toad  Bufo kelaartii
  *Yellow-banned Caecillian  Ichthyophys glutinosus
*Endemic species   **Endemic genera
   

Wrinkled Frog

(Rana corrugata)

Greater Hourglass Tree Frog (Rhacophorus cruciger)

Reed Frog

(Rana greeni)

Torrent Toad

(Buffo kelaartii)

One of the commonest frogs in the forest is the Wrinkled Frog heard frequently from marshes and streams. Several species of tree frogs and the Reed frog while has a call similar to that of a bird can be heard distinctively at night.

The moist environment is conducive for the Sharp-nosed Tree Frog to lay its eggs in a nest of foam on the underside of Cardamom leaves overhanging a stream. This enables the young tadpoles to drop straight into the water when they hatch out. The Lesser Sharpnosed Tree Frog adopts a different strategy. It lays eggs on leaf little where rain water has accumulated. The life cycle is completed within the egg thereby avoiding a free swimming tadpole stage. Others such as Ramnella palmata live their whole life cycle in tree rot holes filled with rain water. The Guenther's Cliff Frog inhabits vertical rock faced covered with dripping water. the young tadpoles are adapted to living on the wet rock face. These strategies among the amphibia could only be possible in an ever-wet environment. The discovery of Guenther's Cliff Frog in 1982 is particularly significant because its sighting at Sinharaja is the first since the type specimen was collected in 1890.

The Yellow-banded Caecilian the only limbless amphibian recorded at Sinharaja, inhabits marshy edges and lives under the wet earth.

Fish

The fish show little diversity with only three species commonly occurring in all forest streams. All these species are endemic to the island. The Comb-tail (Belontia signata) with red tinted fins and tail is found slow moving streams. The Stone-sucker (Garra lamata ceylonensis) is found clinging to rocks where if feeds on moss and the striped loach (Neomachilus notostigma) is found among the leaf little at the bottom of streams.

Invertebrate Fauna

Although the forest teems with all kinds of insects and other invertebrate fauna, very little information is available on these groups of animals. So far only two groups of insect have been considered in depth viz. mosquitoes  and butterflies. However, the Sinharaja has featured prominently in surveys of Sri Lanka insect fauna conducted by the Smithsonian Institution. It is evident from these studies that there is much scope for detailed investigations of the invertebrates.

Studies on the mosquito fauna have shown that at least 27 species have been recorded as adults. The majority, 21 species, were found to breed in surface water sources. The rest used more specialised habitats for breeding. For instance Orthopodomia flavithorax and Culex uniforms breed in tree rot holes filled with water, while C. uniformis and Tripteroides affinis and a few other species use water filled bamboo culms. The most fascinating of all, are the two species Tripteroides dofleini and Armigeres magnus that breed exclusively within the pitcher of Nepenthes distillatoria.

The butterfly fauna of the forest has only been listed, and so far 65 species have been recorded in the western sector of the forest. These include 2 endemic species and 19 endemic subspecies (Table 13). Among the common and more interesting butterflies one comes across in the forest are the Tree Nymph, a large black and white butterfly that inhabits the forest canopy, the Common Bird-wing reputed to be the largest butterfly in the country, the Clipper, the Cruiser and the most beautiful of all, the iridescent Blue-banded Peacock. One of the rarest species in Sri Lanka, the Five bar Swordtail, can also be seen during the months of March and April, the season of butterfly migration

Of some 65 butterfly species the Blue Mormom (Papilio crino) is the commonest one recorded in the Sinharaja Forest. The others include two endemic species and 19 endemic sub-species. One of the common and interesting butterflies that one comes across in the forest is the large black and white tree nymph, reputed to be the largest butterfly in the country.

Monarch butterfly
 

Table 13. A few common and interesting butterflies of Sinharaja.

Common Name

Species Name

*Sri Lanka Tree Nymph  Idea lynceus jasonia
 Glassy Tiger  Danaus aglea aglea
 Common Bushbrown  Mycalesia perseus typhlus
*Sri Lanka Common Birdwing  Troides helena darsius
*Sri Lanka Clipper  Parthenos sylvia cyaneus
 Common Banded Peacock  Papilio crino
*Sri Lanka Blue Mormon  Papilio polymnestor parinda
 Common Mormon  Papilio polytes romulus
*Sri Lanka Red Helen  Papilio helenus mooreanus
*Sri Lanka Five-bar Swordtail  Graphium antiphates ceylonicus
*Sri Lanka Blue Oakleaf  Kallima philarchus philarchus
 Great Eggfly  Hypolimnas bolina
 Danaid Crow  Euploea sp.
 Redspot Duke  Euthalia evelina evelina

                 * Endemic species 

Of the insects at sinharaja, of species interest are two endemic species of wasps of the family Loboscelidae. They are parasitic on Stick insects. The Sinharaja is the only known location where they have been recorded from the Asian region, the other centres of distribution of this family being New Guinea and Australia.

Giant pill-box millipede

(Arthosheaera versicolor)

 Of the invertebrate forms, the land leech Haemadipsa ceylanica is the one most frequently encountered, a fact that becomes all too evident to any visitor to the Sinharaja. Several other commonly encountered species are worthy of mention; the Giant earthworm (Megascoles coeruleus) at least half a metre in length, and three centimeters in diameter and deep three centimeters in diameter and deep blue in colour, the Giant millipede (Spirostreptus sp.) and the Giant pill-box millipede (Arthosheaera versicolor). One of the commonest spiders encountered is the Giant woodspider (Nephila maculata). The large and beautiful spider seen on the web is the female while the small almost unnoticeable little red spider is the male. Several species of Tarantula (Poccilotheria spp.) are also common in the forest. At night the Scorpion (Heterometrus spp.) can be seen along the logging roads and skid trails.      

 

Giant woodspider

 (Nephila maculata)

Forest cricket

(Holochlora albiba)

Future Directions

Although faunal studies have been established only recently, scientists and students have begun to show great interest in continuing the research work. It is hoped therefore that all forms of fauna would soon be under systematic surveillance and study. Existing base-line data on the vertebrates should be completed by conducting similar inventories for the relatively undisturbed eastern sector of the reserve. Detailed studies of their population and distribution are vital if these species are to be conserved. Meanwhile, systematic studies on invertebrates should be stepped up since many new species await discovery.   

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