Friday, July 06, 2018

Two rare elephants confined to Sinharaja

Sinharaja: Last vestige of primary tropical rain forest
Extinction due to changes in feeding patterns
Lack of historical data a major drawback
20 out of 26 endemic birds in Sinharaja
A recent attempt to relocate two rare elephants from the Sinharaja Forest Reserve created a controversy within environmentalists as the UNESCO would de-list the area as a world heritage site. This led to the intervention of the President who issued a directive that the move to relocate the elephants should be suspended until a proper scientific study was done on whether this transmigration would lead to the extinction of this rare species.

The UNESCO in 1978 designated the Sinharaja Forest Reserve as a biosphere reserve and a world heritage site.

Sinharaja is a national park and a biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has identified it as the last vestige of primary tropical rain forest with more than 60 per cent of the trees are endemic or rare.

This hilly virgin rain forest is only 21kms (13mi) from East to West and a maximum of 7kms (13mi) from North to South, but it is a unique area of endemic species including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Wildlife is not seen easily because of the dense vegetation as in the dry-zone national parks like Yala. According to Wikipedia, there were three elephants and 15 leopards, and the common mammal is the endemic purple-faced Langur. One elephant cannot be accounted for at present.
There are 26 endemic birds in Sri Lanka, of which 20 rain forest species occur in Sinharaja. Reptiles include endemic green pit viper, hump-nosed vipers and also rare variety of amphibians, especially tree frogs. There are also invertebrates like common bird wing, butterfly and leeches.

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