Sinharaja is a rain forest and a biodiversity hotspot located in the southwest lowland wetlands within the Sabaragamu and Southern Provinces of Sri Lanka. Sinharaja rain forest is the country’s last viable area of primary tropical rain forest. It covers an area of 11,000 hectares of primary and secondary forests. This narrow strip of rolling site comprises a series of ridges and valleys. More than 60% of the trees are endemic to Sinharaja Forest and many of them are considered rare.
There is much endemic wildlife, especially birds, but the reserve is also home to over 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of butterflies and mammals, and a wide variety of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians. This is one of the main reasons why UNESCO declared Sinharaja Forest as UNESCO World Heritage in 1988 under the name of Sinharaja Forest Reserve. In 1936 the Sinharaja Forest was first recognized as the only significant patch of virgin tropical rain forest in the island.
Sinharaja Forest was acknowledged by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve in 1978. Recognizing the need for maximum possible conservation, the site was declared as a National Heritage Wilderness Area. Being an excellent site for studying the process of habitat and biological evolution for rare and endangered species. Sinharaja Forest is the best place to see mixed species bird flocks.
According to a study conducted on mixed species bird flocks, the flocks have an average of 42 different birds which makes it the largest mixed species bird flock in the world. The mixed species bird flock study of Sinharaja forest has been ongoing since 1981 and is considered to be the longest bird flock study in the world.
Location of Sinharaja Rain Forest
Sinharaja Forest consists of a series of continuous ridges, which are roughly aligned in an east-west direction and lie between the Kalu Ganga in the north and the tributaries of Jin Ganga in the south: there are four main routes to reach Sinharaja. Kalavana-Vedagala Road from North-West, Rakwana-Morning Side Estate Road from North-East, Hiniduma-Neluva Road from South-West and Deniyaya-Pallegama Road from South-East. The Kalavana-Veddagala road between these roads is shorter and more convenient for tourists coming from Colombo.
Endemic Species in Sinharaja Forest
Sri Lanka is home to 830 endemic species, of which 217 trees and wood climbers are found in the wetlands of the lowland. Of these, 139 (64%) have been recorded in the reserve including 16 rare species. Being endemic to Sri Lanka, 19 (95%) of the 20 species recorded in the property are particularly high for birds. The endemism between mammals and butterflies is also over 50%. Several threatened, endangered and rare species including panther, Indian elephant, endemic purple-faced langur, Sri Lankan wood pigeon, green-billed kokal, Sri Lankan white-headed starling, Sri Lankan blue magpie, ash-headed babbler are part of the reserve. are found inside. Sri Lanka Broad-billed Roller.
On a birdwatching tour of Sinharaja, bird watchers can see close to 21 of the 33 endemic bird species, although the actual number of endemic birds recorded in Sinharaja is higher. East logging roads provide the best access to prime birding in Sinharaja where a mixed species bird flocks and provides you with a selection that includes Orange-billed Babbler, Crested Drongo, Red-faced Malkoha, Ash-headed Laughing Thrush, Green-billed Kaukal, Lesser Yellow are included.
Nap, Orange Minivet, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Black Napped 5 Monarch, Yellow Fronted Barbet, White Faced Starling, Sri Lanka Spur Fowl, Yellow Brown Bulbul, Bronze Winged Pigeon, Spot Winged Thrush, Sri Lanka Myna, Ledge Flowerpecker, Brown Backed Needle Tail, Green Imperial Pigeon, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Chestnut Backed Owlette, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Sealy Thrush, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Black-throated Munia, Laird’s Parakeet, Black Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Dark Fronted Babbler and Velvet Fronted Nuthatch, As dusk falls, you can spot the sub-continental endemic Sri Lanka Frogmouth.
Climate of Sinharaja Rain Forest
The average annual temperature in Sinharaja is about 23.6 °C. It receives over 2500mm of rainfall annually and lies within 38 isohyets of 10-5080mm. During the two monsoons, May–July and October–December, rainfall is well distributed with peak periods. There is no drought throughout the year.
Topography of Sinharaja Rain Forest
The altitude of Sinharaja Reserve ranges from 200 m to 1300 m. It has a rolling terrain consisting of a series of ridges and valleys that assume an east-west trend in the north-western part of the reserve. In other parts of the reserve, ridges and valleys assume a northwest/southeast alignment. The highest is the peak of Hinipitigala, which rises to about 1150 meters. Other important ridges in the reserve are between 550-800 m. in altitude, namely Moulawela (760 m), Kosgulana (797 m), Sinhagala (742 m), Kohilerambe (575 m), Dotalugala (769 m), and Tibbotagala (904 m).
Geology & Soil of Sinharaja Rain Forest
The Sinharaja Reserve lies within the transition zone of two important groups of rock types, the South/West group consisting of metasediments—charnockites and scapolites containing calc granulites—and the Highland group, consisting of mechamorphosed sediments and khondalites of charnockites. The most important geological feature of Sinharaja is the presence of a “Sinharaja Basic Zone” consisting of hornblende pyriclasts, basic charnockites, pyroxene amphibolites, and scapolites.
The soils of Sinharaja largely belong to the group of reddish yellow podzolic solis, with markedly different horizons of different soil depths. The soil is well drained with very little accumulation of organic matter.
Plant Life of Sinharaja Rain Forest
The vegetation of Sinharaja can be described as either tropical lowland rain forest or tropical wet evergreen forest. Some of the distinguishing features of the forest are the height of the dominant trees, the straightness of their bellies, the abundance of regeneration and the diversity of species. The average height of the trees varies between 35 meters to 40 meters. Some individuals even rise up to 50 meters.
Contrary to popular belief, low growth is rarely, if ever, dense; However, the growth of dense shrubs occurs at intervals on rock shelves or on canopy created by the fall of more mature trees. The great diversity of the Sinharaja forest’s species makes it difficult to isolate ecological patterns. However, some tree associations have been recognized—and these are Dipterocarpus (Hora, Bu Hora), which is restricted to lower elevations along the Jin Ganges valley, and the Mesua-Duna (Shoriya) association forming the matrix of the Sinharaja forest.
The vegetation of Sinharaja is that of moist moist evergreen forest lip with high degree of endemism. In fact some families such as Dipterocarpaceae show an endemicity of more than 90%. The untapped genetic potential of the Sinharaja flora is enormous, with 139 (66%) of the 211 timber trees and lianas identified so far within the reserve being endemic. Similarly, a high degree of endemism is probably true for lower plants such as ferns and epiphytes.
13 of the 25 endemic to Sri Lanka are represented in Sinharaja. The total vegetation density, including trees, shrubs, herbs and plants, has been estimated to be around 240,000 individuals per hectare, of which 95% consists of individuals less than 1 m in height. The density of trees, with vines exceeding 30 cm at breast height, ranges between 600–700 individuals/ha. While 150 cm The number of business persons of trees with a girth greater than 45-55 persons/ha.
Animal Life of of Sinharaja Rain Forest
Preliminary studies on the fauna of Sinharaja showed a high degree of endemism among butterflies, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. In fact 95% of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds are recorded in Sinharaja. The endemicity between mammals and butterflies is also over 50% of the larger mammals, although elephants were called ‘common’ in the past, there have been no reports of sightings during the past 15 years. However, there have been reports of sightings of some animals in the Eastam Scatter.
The most common deer species is ‘Sambhu’. Mouse deer and barking deer are also found within the reserve. Leopards are rarely seen, but their frequent presence is confirmed by tracks and other signs. Badger mongoose and golden palm civet have been occasionally seen. The most commonly seen primate is the Purplefaced Lil Monkey. Of the birds recorded in the western area of the reserve, 72% were resident non-endemic and 13% migratory.
One of the most interesting and colorful spectacles found in Sinharaja is the presence of mixed species of flocks of birds, usually found in rain forests. A total of 00 such mocks were systematically observed, and studies have shown that some [Taals contain 48 species, including 12 endemic species, the endemic birds seen in Sinharaja are Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Ash The white-headed babbler, white-headed starling and green-billed cockerel are the rarest of Sri Lankan birds. Agamids are the best-represented group of reptiles, the most common being the Green Garden Lizard. Of particular importance is Calotes liolipis, an arboreal species, the rarest of all the agamids found on the island.
The only turtle recorded in the reserve is the hard-shelled terrapin, while among the pelt species, the spotted skink can often be seen. Among the snakes green pit viper and hump-nosed viper are commonly found in this forest and are endemic to Sri Lanka.
Urokissa ornata – Sri Lanka Blue Magpie
Amphibians are well represented in the reserve and these endemic species have been identified. The endemic Orant Toad and Common House Road, Wrinkled Frog in most streams and marshes and the Sri Lankan Reed ‘Og are also found in Sinharaja. Ramonella palmata is a rare endemic species that is the only microhylid ever recorded, while the yellow-banded caecilian is the only spodon recorded.
Sinharaja is surrounded by 22 villages with a population of about 5000 people. Only two villages, Varukandeniya and Kolonthotuwa are located within the service, xdays The long history of human habitation in and around the reserve, really adds to the problem of management and conservation of the forest. Most of the pristine are harmless, located on the north-western fringes along the southern boundary of the reserve on the banks of the Jin Ganges. 1e Several ancient footpaths exist on the periphery of the reserve, while there are three footpaths that run through the interior of the forest.
The family structure is that of an extended family in which parents, children and grandparents live together. ‘Her house has a small floor area, an average of 25 sq. m rebuilt a cattle and dub. The ceiling is carved with two sides of a forest lilet called Beru or bamboo caves. However, coconut leaves and clay tiles for thatch have started to gain popularity as roofing materials. The staple food of the villagers is rice, yams such as sweet potatoes and manio (cassava), breakfruit and jake fruit, in home gardens guana is often used as a substitute for rice plants commonly found in home gardens, There are betel vines (Piper areca nut). Black pepper and passion fruit. Fruit trees like papaya and banana are also grown. For most of their other needs the villagers often depend on the plants found in the forest. The juice required for the manufacture of jaggery is obtained by tapping the inflorescences of Kitul Palin (Caryota urens).
Maha Hedaya – A medicinal Plant
The outstanding characteristics of the Sinharaja described above indicate that there is a critical need for conservation of its biological diversity and gene pool. Another aspect related to the conservation of Sinharaja is the area’s importance as a priceless watershed. Conservation of Sinharaja will not only ensure the maintenance of water resources and reduce the intensity of floods which are a constant threat in this part of the island characterized by heavy rainfall.
The Forest Department of Sri Lanka is directly responsible for the management of the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, managed primarily as a unique genepool and watershed, therefore fully protected. It is desirable that you, who travel to the forest, be sensitive to the need for conservation of forests like Sinharaja. In contrast to the chaos and overcrowding that prevails in urban areas, it is in the forests that quality of life is best expressed.
Also man finds peace and tranquility in the forest. Give yourself ample time to walk inside this lush green cathedral of nature and enjoy its beauty and majesty, whether you are a photographer, artist, scientist or nature lover.
The Senkanda Cave
A monk named Senkand lived in this rock cave. One day a man came to this forest to extract rattan and lost himself in the forest. The sadhu met this poor villager and allowed him to spend the night at his place. The man saw many wonderful things in the forest. The villager learned more about the forest from the sannyasi and informed Vikrambahu whose kingdom was at that time in Gampola. Later his kingdom was annexed by an enemy and the king fled and hid in that rock cave. Later the king made his kingdom in this forest.
It is the highest peak among the other smaller peaks located within the forest. It is believed that the national flag and religious flags have been hoisted on this peak in ancient times. The height of this peak is about 800 feet above sea level.
Near Kodimale there is a huge endemic creeper called “Pas Vela” (Antada Pusetha) which is 200 to 300 years old. It is an ornamental vine, which adds to the natural beauty and value of the forest. Giant Pus Vela (Antada Puseta).
It is a narrow lane running around the royal pond through lofty and shady trees. It is very famous among the youth who come to enjoy the serene natural beauty of this forest. The shady and cool environment on the banks of the pond and under the thick canopy of trees is a wonderful creation of nature.
The queen and other members of the royal family used this pond for water sports during the reign of the king. People believe that at the bottom of this pond was hidden a golden vessel filled with valuables of King Kirti Shree. They also believe that once a year it comes to the surface of the pond and then disappears. Many believe that there is a tunnel from the middle of Kandy Lake to this pond.
The Marble Seat
Inside the forest was a flat marble rock. It was used as a resting place by the royal family, who used to visit the forest to enjoy its natural beauty. Recently it has been removed from there and placed inside Sri Dalda Sylvan as a variation for offering flowers.
Things to do in Sinharaja
- Sinharaja Rain Forest – World Heritage
- Maduwanwela Walawwa – Historical place
- Neluwa Duwili Ella Falls – Waterfall
- Sathmala Ella – Waterfall
More About World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka
- Polonnaruwa Ancient City Sri Lanka
- Sigiriya – Ancient City : UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Central Highlands Of Sri Lanka : Wilderness Protected
Frequently Asked Questions About Sinharaja Rainforest
Q. What animals live in Sinharaja rainforest?
A – Of the 26 endemic birds of Sri Lanka, 20 rainforest species are found here, including the elusive red-faced malkoha, green-billed kukal and Sri Lanka blue magpie. Reptiles include the endemic green pit viper and hump-nosed viper, and a large variety of amphibians, especially tree frogs.
Q. What are the trees in Sinharaja Forest?
A – The vegetation of Sinharaja can be described as either tropical lowland rain forest or tropical wet evergreen forest. Some of the distinguishing features of the forest are the height of the dominant trees, the straightness of their bellies, the abundance of regeneration and the diversity of species.
Q. Where is Sinharaja Forest located?
A – Sinharaja Forest Sanctuary. Situated in southwest Sri Lanka, Sinharaja is the country’s last viable area of primary tropical rainforest.
Q. Is Sinharaja Forest a World Heritage Site?
A – Sinharaja Rainforest is the last virgin rainforest left in Sri Lanka and is home to many rare endemic flora and fauna. It was recognized as an International Human and Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and was later upgraded to a UNESCO World Heritage Rainforest in 1988.
Q. Are there elephants in Sinharaja?
A – Panu Kota, one of the last two remaining elephants (Elephas maximus maximus) to live in the UNESCO World Heritage Sinharaja Forest Reserve, had a GPS satellite collar in June 2019, enabling authorities to receive a signal whenever an elephant roaming Enters nearby villages and intervenes to reduce timely
Q. How many waterfalls are there in Sinharaja?
A – The Pitadenia entrance to Sinharaja Forest has 8 very beautiful waterfalls and boundless waterways. They are Kekuna Falls, Pathanoya Falls, Malmora Falls, Brahman Falls, Galdoru Falls, Uran Vetuna Falls, Thattu Falls and Duvili Falls.
Q. How do you get to Sinharaja in the rain forest?
A – The only way to enter Sinharaja is on foot with a national guide. The reserve can be entered from three different sides, but the more common entry is through Deniya, a small and dusty town at the edge of a rain forest.