The forest reserve of Sinharaja is one of the most biodiverse locations in all of Sri Lanka. The forest was even named a biosphere reserve and designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Sinharaja is often stated to be the last viable tract of tropical rainforest left in Sri Lanka, and as such, it contains a variety of unique flora, over 60% of which is endemic to the country. Hidden amongst all this verdant greenery is a menagerie of life. So, if you ever decide to visit Sinharaja the wildlife you’re likely to encounter is unparalleled.
Being a tropical forest, the area is quite compact meaning that large animals that thrive in more open reserves like Yala are relatively rare. For instance, only 3 individual elephants are known to frequent the forest. Likewise, the island’s top predator, the Sri Lankan leopard, is relatively rare here with an estimated population of around 15. Here it’s the smaller species that thrive. For example, two smaller species of cat found here in far greater numbers than the leopard – namely the rusty-spotted cat and the fishing cat. Sinharaja is also home to the endemic purple-faced langur, a rare sight outside of the forest’s boundaries.
The forest is also a haven for various endemic bird species 20 of the 26 species are found here within Sinharaja. These include the striking red-faced malkoha, the Green-billed coucal and the brilliantly coloured Sri Lankan blue magpie. Birds, in general, tend to form feeding flocks that contain various species. These groups can be a sight to behold if one is lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them.
Several species of reptile are also known to inhabit Sinharaja including the endemic green pit viper and hump-nosed viper. The common krait is also found here, roaming the forest floor. Travellers would do well to keep an eye out for this snake as it carries a potent venom. Tree frogs are also a common sight here – especially the wrinkled tree frog – and are the primary prey for the many arboreal snakes of the forest.