Sri Lanka is an island which defies convention. According to classic island bio-geographic theory, small islands don't have large mammals. Unfortunately for theory Sri Lanka is an exception, as the largest terrestrial mammal in Asia, the Asian Elephant, is found on the island.
What is more, Sri Lanka is beyond doubt the best place in Asia to see the Asian Elephant. Visit Uda Walawe National Park, to the south of the central mountain massif, and you are guaranteed to see elephants. During September and October an annual concentration of elephants, called 'The Gathering', takes place on the receding shores of the Minneriya Lake in Minneriya National Park. 'The Gathering' is surely one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet.
Then there is the Big Spotted One. The Leopard is elusive all over the world and almost impossible to see in most of Asia. In Sri Lanka, the Leopard is the Top Cat and reigns supreme. Unchallenged by Lions or Tigers, it can be seen at times having a siesta on the road under the shade of a tree. Recent research suggests that Yala may have one of the highest densities of Leopards in the world. For wildlife enthusiasts, seeing a Leopard is one of the highlights of a visit to the island.
What about birds? Islands are marvelous vestibules for evolutionary dynamics to work, resulting in speciation. Here, the theorists have got it right. The island has thirty-three endemic species of birds.
Did you know that Sri Lanka’s is home to a staggering;
- 92 species of mammals!
- Over 440 bird species!
- 242 butterfly & 117 dragonfly species!
- 190 reptiles of which 98 species are of snakes, while the remaining are of mainly lizards, crocodiles and turtles!
- 102 amphibian species!
- 107 species of fish!
- 3210 species of flowering plants! And that…
Overall, about 22 percent of Sri Lanka’s amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles and 27 percent of our plants are endemic!