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The fascinating biodiversity of Sinharaja

Spread like a green blanket over Sabaragamuwa and Southern provinces, the Sinharaja Biosphere Reserve is the greatest remaining lush tropical rainforest in Sri Lanka.

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It is an incredibly enigmatic territory, an enchanting and complete escape for the adventurous. The main attraction of this virgin forest is the incredible biodiversity that inhabits its wet dark terrain. Though only three elephants and 15 leopards reside in this forest, you will find a wealth of smaller yet interesting, rare jewel-like wildlife not to be found anywhere else in the world.

Within the dark womb of Sinharaja you will find the intriguing phenomenon of the birds moving in mixed feeding flocks. Here many different avian species together forage for insects. According to naturalists it is in Sinharaja that you find the most varied of these flocks and a magnificent bird diversity. Out of the 384 birds recorded in the Island, 282 (73 per cent) reside within these forests.

From the 26 birds endemic to the Island, the 20 rainforest species live here. This includes the shy, elusive and distinctly patterned red faced malkoha, green billed coucal and the Sri Lanka blue magpie.

In addition to birds, many other species endemic to Sri Lanka can be seen in Sinharaja. Camping out would mean an encounter with snails, spiders, agamides, frogs and toads as well as snakes that call the lush wet undergrowth home. With luck you may see the native red slender loris with magnified eyes and smaller wild cats.

The flora of Sinharaja is just as rich and vivid. The dominant trees are huge, growing as tall as 50m. Out of the 211 woody trees and lianas so far identified within the reserve 139 (66 per cent) are endemic. It will be exciting to the adventurer to know that the wild rainforest still harbours species as yet unknown and unrecorded.

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