Sinharaja Forest (World Heritage)

The 88 km² nature reserve is located in the southwest of Sri Lanka between 300 and 1170 m altitude. According to thesciencetutor, the last large contiguous rainforest area in Sri Lanka is protected here. It is characterized by great biodiversity and endemic species.

Sinharaja Forest: Facts

Official title: Sinharaja Forest Nature Reserve
Natural monument: Protected area between the rivers Napola Dola and Koskulana Ganga in the north, between Maha Dola and Gin Ganga in the south, between Kalukandawa Ela and Kudawa Ganga in the west and Denuwa Kanda in the east with an area of ​​88.64 km²; Altitudes up to 1170 m (Hinipitigala Peak), rainfall recorded in the last 60 years of 3614 mm to 5006 mm
Continent: Asia
Country: Sri Lanka
Location: Sinharaja Forest, southeast of Colombo
Appointment: 1988
Meaning: last extensive lowland rainforest area of ​​Sri Lanka
Flora and fauna: Remains of a Dipterocarp rainforest with Dipterocarpus zeylanicus and D. hispidus together with secondary forest; of the country’s 830 endemic plant species, 139 found in Sinharaja, 16 of them classified as rare; Habitat for 50% of the country’s endemic mammal and butterfly species, including whiskered langur and Atrophaneura jophon; high endemism also among the bird species (19 out of 20), endangered or rare bird species such as blue tail kitta, the Centropus chlororhynchus, which belongs to the spur cuckoos, the Sturnus senex, which belongs to the starlings, and the Garrulax cinereifrons, which belongs to the jays; endangered leopard and Indian elephant; among the reptiles the Ceylon beautiful lizard and Ceratophora aspera, which belongs to the rhinoceros dragons

With Hanuman and Ganesha in the “Cathedral of Nature”

“Sinharaja” means “lion king”. Perhaps the forest area was named after the fabulous Lion of Ceylon, perhaps after the lion people of whom the country’s legends tell. This rainforest also plays a major role in the local myths that speak of the awe of the people who live here. Those who are lucky enough to get lost in it for a while will be able to understand this.

Twilight envelops the intruder, steaming silence. The narrow path runs under huge, bent ferns, and above it rises the dome roof of the giants of the jungle. Every step seems too loud. The ear slowly “learns” the language of the forest: the omnipresent rhythm of the falling drops, the singing of the cicada, the distant questioning call of a bird and the unexpected answer that resounds very close by. The forest is only slowly showing its true colors: Suddenly in the darkness of the thicket you can see the artistic flower of an orchid, then another and another. A scurry at first, too fast for the eye, gives away an animal. Suddenly one becomes aware of the owl-like face of a whiskered langur, which has been staring at us two-legged intruders from its tree seat for some time. Little by little, brightly colored feathered birds and lizards shimmering like jewels in the light appear. In the twilight, flying squirrels “sail” from tree to tree, and a snake, almost indistinguishable from the climbing plants surrounding it, hangs motionless in the branches. Only her triangular, green patterned head swings gently from one side to the other.

Of the many nature reserves in Sri Lanka, none of the originality and biodiversity of Sinharaja is the same: Above all, the bird life there is unique, as 19 of the 20 species that only occur in Sri Lanka are found here. There is also a protective home here for the leopard, which is otherwise endangered in Sri Lanka. The same applies to the endangered sloth bear, whose coarse-haired fur is dark gray to deep black and whose chest is adorned with a white horseshoe pattern, as well as to the island’s last wild Indian elephants.

As an old inscription shows, in the 12th century the then ruling King Ceylon forbade the killing of wild animals, even birds and fish, in some areas. In continuation of this tradition, about a tenth of the total area of ​​Ceylon was placed under the supervision of the Department of Wild Life Conservation, including large parts of the Sinharaja Forest, which has been protected since 1875. A century later it was officially designated a biosphere reserve. But such efforts only obscure the view of the progressive displacement of natural by cultural landscape: Even if only in the peripheral areas, tea plantations are taking up more and more space. In addition, the illegal felling of valuable wood, the increased mining of precious stones and poaching threaten this unique nature reserve.

This time you may not have met a leopard in the »Cathedral of Nature«, but a herd of Indian elephants. Among them is a full-grown bull calmly observing the surroundings. His wrinkled face is reminiscent of the Hindu god of wisdom, Ganesha, son of Shiva and lord of his followers. Behind him, a black-faced Ceylon Hulman, who wears a tufted black hair comb on his head, swings himself onto a branch. This type of monkey is sacred to the devout Hindus and a symbol of loyalty. The reason for this can be found in the Indian national epic Ramayana: According to this epic, Hanuman, the wise minister of the king of the apes, freed the kidnapped princess Sita from the power of the demon Ravana.

Sinharaja Forest (World Heritage)