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Sinharaga Forest Reserve

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Sinharaja is a must-see for all keen birders as well as a great location for general wildlife enthusiasts. It is one of the few protected areas in Sri Lanka where visitors are permitted to walk in the interior. Sinharaga, which translates as 'Lion King', covers an area of nearly 19,000 hectares close to the gem-mining town of Ratnapura, and consists of natural rain forest as well as introduced species, such as teak and mahogany. Exploited historically for rattan and for around 150 years by the British for commercial timber, it was not until 1977 that all logging activities were halted. The reserve was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1989.

This lowland forest is considered to be one of the best birding sites in Sri Lanka with 22 out of Sri Lanka's 26 endemic birds having been sighted here, and large mixed feeding flocks providing an unusual spectacle. Even the less experienced birder would hope to see 10-15 endemics during their stay; avian highlights include the Red-Faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Spot-Winged Thrush and Malabar Trogon. However it is not just birds that attract the visitors, over 60% of the country's endemic tree species are found here, along with an impressive list of butterfly, insect, amphibian and reptile species, again many are endemic. This is also leech country and we provide all our clients with leech-proof socks ideal for forest trekking through the undergrowth.

Due to the dense forest mammal life can be more difficult to spot; of the 40 species listed you would have a good chance of seeing Giant Squirrels, Mongoose, Purple-Faced Langur, Wild Boar and Barking Deer. Rarer species include Rusty-Spotted cats, Fishing Cats, Indian Civet Cats, Porcupine and Leopard. Sightings of leopard are only occasional, though proof of their presence is easier to find, there have also been unconfirmed reports of a 'Panther' or black leopard in the jungle.

The drive from Colombo to Sinharaja takes about 4 hours passing through some stunning hill country on the way. It is possible to enter Sinharaja at several checkpoints with the preferred location, Kudawa, in the North West. Annual rainfall can be as much as 5000mm, with the drier periods being August to September and January to March.

 

 

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