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Flora and Fauna


The southwest part of the island country is wet tropical – typical rainforest vegetation, evergreen and teeming with wildlife. The central and northern hill country has grasslands, rhododendrons and other mountain trees – usually covered with orchids. The rest of the island is much drier, with sparser tree cover and grasslands.


Although a tiny bit of land, Sri Lanka is rich in wildlife. It has more than 80 mammal species, including elephants that seem to be virtually everywhere, leopards, deer, wild boar and smaller mammals. There are a whopping 450 species of birds, of which 200 odd are migratory and another 21 or so unique to Sri Lanka. Fish and reptiles also abound in the waterways of Sri Lanka and in the surrounding seas. Beware, though: crocodiles are to be found in some of the rivers!


Fortunately, Sri Lanka has done a fair deal towards preserving its wildlife: around 25% of the country is still under forest cover and about 10% of the country’s land area is protected - in fact, the world’s first wildlife sanctuary was Sri Lankan: it was established in the 3rd century BC through an edict issued by the king Devanampiya Tissa. Today, the Sri Lankan government recognises more than a 100 protected areas, including Wilpattu -the largest park in Sri Lanka, Yala (East and West), Horton Plains, Bundala Sanctuary, and the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary.

Flora and Fauna