Sinharaja Rain Forest -

Sinharaja Rain Forest


Sinharaja Rain Forest, one of world’s best Rain Forests, is located within Sabaragamuwa Province and Southern Province of Sri Lanka. The total area of Sinharaja Rain Forest spreads over 7,648 hectares and it was declared as a forest reserve in 1875. And in 1988, it was declared as Sri Lanka’s first National Wilderness Heritage Area. This amazing Sinharaja Rain Forest is bounded by the Napola Dola and Koskulana Ganga River on the North side, by the Maha Dola and Gin Ganga Rivers on the South and South-West side and by the Kalukandawa Ela and river Kudawa Ganga Rivers on the West side. Travelers can enter to this Sinharaja Rain Forest from Northern or Western parts of the country. And the Sinharaja Rain Forest consists of a series of ridges and valleys.

Sinharaja Rain Forest has two nature trials which lead to Moulawella peak and Sinhagala peak. And it is a pleasurable and enlightening activity among tall trees, small crystal-clear cool water streams, various bio-diverse species and the canopy of woods. These natural trails are 2.4km in length and the best season to do hiking here is from December to April. And this Sinharaja Rain Forest received both monsoon rains; south-west monsoons during May-July and the north-east monsoons during November-January. 

Sinharaja Rain Forest is rich in bio-diversity, which is the best destination to find out over 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as many kinds of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians, at one place. It is a best nestle to various indigenous birds including Ceylon Hanging Parrot (Loriculus beryllinus), the Ceylon Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis), the Ashy-headed Laughing Thrush (Garrulax cinereifrons), Layard’s parakeet (Psittacula calthripae), the Jungle fowl (Gallus lafayetii ), the Spur fowl (Galloperdix bicalcarata), the Ceylon Wood Pigeon (Columba torringtonii), the Brown- capped Babbler (Pellorneum fuscocapillum), the Red-faced Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus) and the Ceylon Blue Magpie (Urocissa ornate). And, there are 19 Sri Lanka’s endemic birds’ species including Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka Spur fowl, and Sri Lanka white-headed starling can be discovered in this Sinharaja Rain Forest too. In addition to that, there many mammal, reptile, amphibian and butterfly species can be discovered in this Sinharaja Rain Forest. Giant squirrel, dusky-stripped jungle squirrel, badger mongoose, endemic purple-faced leaf monkey, the leopard, python, endemic green pit viper and rough-nose horned lizard are some of them. Therefore, Sinharaja Rain Forest is one of best travel destinations in world, located in Sri Lanka, which should not be missed to experience the bio-diversity of this amazing nature creation!

Soils at Sinharaja Rain Forest

According to various researches and findings, the soils of the Sinharaja Rain Forest belong to the Red-Yellow Podzolic group, out of all 14 great soil groups in Sri Lanka, with newly formed alluvial soils along river valleys. The origin of these soils is mostly remaining while surviving of parent material into laterites and lateritic soils is increased by high rainfall and temperature. Due to the presence of ferruginous and kaolinite soil material rich in alumina, the soils are also impermeable. Traces of magnesia and lime prevailing in the original rock can be detected wherever leaching has not been excessive also.

Organic substances create from the living matter above ground, while the mineral constituents of soil arise largely from parent material and bed rock. According to some soil nutrient analysis, it content in surface soils at the Sinharaja Rain Forest has revealed greater concentration of exchangeable cautions in the upper layers probably due to increased activity of soil micro-organisms as well as continuous enrichment by litter. Not only that, it is said that nutrients from decaying plant matter are released in the order of potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and nitrogen.  And these Sinharaja Rain Forest trees have a well-developed surface root system, and are highly efficient in nutrient absorption, and even under high rainfall conditions, there is little or no leaching. 

The Plant life of Sinharaja Rain Forest

It will be easy for any traveler to lost in greenery world or identify the plant life clearly, if he/she would have basic knowledge about its diversity including Vegetation Structure, Rare Species, Endemic Flora and Common Species in Sinharaja Rain Forest. 

Vegetation Structure

The Sinharaja Rain Forest seems to be a bewildering disorder of vegetation, at first glance, but if anyone will have a closer look, it will be revealed that the vegetation can be categorized on the basis of several factors such as life-forms (example; trees, shrubs, herbs and woody climbers), strata or groups of plants living under similar conditions of light and moisture with each group having its own “life-style” (example; the canopy, sub-canopy or under-storey, shrub layer and ground layer, stranglers, epiphytes, parasites and saprophytes). However, all vegetation could all either stand on their own, like trees and thus be mechanically independent, or be dependent, like climbers, epiphytes and parasites. 

This is a tall forest with the canopy reaching a height of 30 to 45 meters and the canopy is well packed with tree crowns and is usually devoid of emergent trees also. Columnar tree trunks are typical, among the large trees of the canopy in this site and these are supported by plank buttress roots a classic characteristic of large rain forest trees. It is said that these buttresses are necessary to stabilize the unusually tall tree trunks, which support a crown at the very top and have a shallow root system. However, comparing to other South-East Asian Rain Forests, Sinharaja has few buttresses and is not as developed as others. If you will have a closer look into these nature creations or will research its’ origins, the root systems of rain forest trees are relatively superficial, and only a few trees have deep strong tap roots. And usually the sub-canopy trees are between 15 and 30 meters in height here and under the deep shade cast by the over-storey are trees of the under-storey which grow to a height of 5-15 meters also. Mostly the vegetation is sparse below the “under-storey trees” and the tree lets, saplings and a few shrubs occupy the vegetation below 5 meters in height, these being mostly the saplings of over-storey trees in this amazing greenery area. 

Note only that, the ground layer of the forest has a few herbaceous plants and an abundance of seedlings and these herbaceous plants are often multi-colored of red and purple, while others are iridescent. These things may be the great captures of travelers’ camera. There are another two characteristic life-forms of the rain forest; large woody climbers and epiphytes and both groups are showing an alternative strategy for reaching sunlight. Another significant feature of this rain forest is having drip-tips of the leaves. The existence of elongated leaf tips is undoubtedly an adaptation to drain-off the excess moisture which continuously collects on the leaf surface. Therefore, this feature is visible among life forms and seedlings and saplings which inhabit this forest interior. In addition to that, colored young leaves, fruits and flowers are also specific things to this rain forest, because the prominent colors of varying types of red, orange, brown, and purple are nature’s way of protecting the young leaves from harmful radiation and it’s also one of amazing creation of nature. 

In this Sinharaja Rain Forest, the total vegetation density (including trees, shrubs and seedlings) is about 240,000 individuals per hectare and out of that, about 95% covers individuals of the ground layer. And the density of trees and vines above 30 centimeters girth ranges between 600- 700 individuals per hectare while there is the number of exploitable trees also. However, the way of categorizing the vegetation in Sinharaja is amazing!

Rare Species

According to various researches and findings at Sinharaja Rain Forest, there is a high degree of species localization with respect to spatial distribution and 26% of the species were limited to a single place, among the woody flora above 30 centimeters girth. The general acceptance is that any rain forest may contain an abundant diversity of species with low population densities. And further many findings revealed that 50% are signified by less than 10 individuals per hectare while 15% had only a single individual per hectare, among the trees. And these similar trends are exhibited by the smaller life forms such as the tree lets, shrubs, and herbs in this forest. 

Endemic Flora

It is recorded that Sinharaja plays an unique role of having the endemic flora and it is about 64%-75% of the total number of species among the trees and vines over 30 centimeters in circumference and from 75%-92% of endemic flora contribution is recorded to this forest. Not only that, out of 25 types Sri Lanka’s endemic flora, 13 are recorded as representing in the Sinharaja and represented by one single species also. And it is recorded that Sinharaja has 140 species of endemic trees out of 217 endemic trees and woody climbers of the rain forest region in Sri Lanka. Schumacheria (Dilleniaceae), Trichadenia (Flacourtiaceae), Stemonoporus (Dipterocarpaceae), Scutinanthe (Burseraceae), Pseadocarapa (Meliaceae), Glenniea (Sapindaceae), Leucocodon (Rubiaceae), Schizostigma (Rubiaceae), Championea (Gesneriaceae), Hortonia (Monimiaceae), Podadeniya (Euporbiaceae), Cyphostigma (Zingiberaceae) and Loxococcus (Palmae) are the types of endemic plant in Sinharaja. To discover this diversity, you should include this site to your travel plan in Sri Lanka!

Common Species in Sinharaja Rain Forest

Type of SpeciesFamily NameScientific NameCommon Name
TreesEuphorbiaceae Macaranga PeltataKenda
Euphorbiaceae Mallotus Tetracoccus
Apocynaceae Pagiantha DichotomaDivi kaduru
Rubiaceae Wendlandia BicuspidataWanaidala
Rutaceae Evodia Lunu-ankendaNonankenda
Rutaceae Acronychia PedunculataAnkenda
DilleniaceaeSchumacheria CastaneifoliaKekiriwara
Theaceae Eurya AcuminataWanahalu
ElaeocarpaceaeElaeocarpus SubvillosusGalveralu
ShrubsMelastomataceae Melastoma malabathricaMabovitiya
Rubiaceae Hedyotis fruticosaVeraniya
Compositae Eupatorium odoratumPodisingomaran
LoganiaceaeGaertnera vaginansPerathambala
Lauraceae Litsea longifoliaRathkeliya
Symplocaceae Symplocos cochinchinensisBombu
Verbenaceae Clerodendrum infortunatumPinna
ClimbersRubiaceae Uncaria thwaitesiiApassa wel
Rutaceae Toddalia asiaticaKudumirissa
HerbsRubiaceaeSchizostigma hirsutum Gonakola
Graminae Cyrtococcum oxphyllum
Graminae Paspalum conjugatum
Orchidaceae Arundina graminifoliaBamboo orchid
Lycopodiaceae Lycopodium cernuumBadal vanassa
Gleichiniaceae Dichranopteris linearisKekilla

The Wildlife of Sinharaja Rain Forest

As plant life enriches the eco-system of Sinharaja Rain Forest, the wildlife also plays a main role in this amazing nature. Though the wildlife is depending on plants, they are vital part of nature to continue the eco-system like pollination and seed dispersal. There is a high degree of representation of the Sri Lanka’s wildlife (fauna), mainly endemic species at Sinharaja and that can be displayed like below;

Total Species of Wildlife in Sri Lanka vs. Total Species of Wildlife in Sinharaja Rain Forest

Wildlife CategoryTotal Species of Wildlife in Sri LankaTotal Species of Wildlife in SinharajaRatio of Total Species. in Sinharaja
Reptiles  Snakes

Total Endemic Species of Wildlife in Sri Lanka vs. Total Endemic Species of Wildlife in Sinharaja Rain Forest

Wildlife CategoryTotal Endemic Species of Wildlife in Sri LankaTotal Endemic of Wildlife in SinharajaRatio of Total Endemic Species. in Sinharaja
Reptiles  Snakes

Mammals in Sinharaja Rain Forest

It is recorded that out of total mammal species in Sri Lanka, Sinharaja represents around 46% species. There are various mammals including large mammals, small mammals and forest bats can be seen there. Elephant (Elephas maximus maximus), Sambhar (Cervus unicolour), Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjak malabaricus), Mouse Deer (Tragulus meminna), Wild Pig (Sus scrofa cristatus), Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca), Fishing Cat (Zibethailurus viverrina), Rusty Spotted Cat (Prionailurus rubiginosa), Western Purple-Faced Leaf Monkey (Presbytis senes vetulus), Jackal (Canis aureus lanka) and Western Toque Macaque (Macaca sinica aurifrons) are the large mammal types that travelers can discover here. 

Sri Lanka Bi-coloured Rat (Srilankamis ohiensis), Spiny Rat (Coelomys mayori pococki), House Rat (Rattus rattus kandiyanus), House Rat (Rattus rattus kelaarti), Greater Bandicoot Rat (Bandicota indica), Field Mouse (Mus cervicolour fulvidiventris), Sri Lanka Long-tailed Shrew (Crocidura miya), Horsefield’s Shrew (Crocidura horsefieldi), House Shrew (Suncus ceylanicus), Western giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura melanochra), Flame-striped Jungle Squirrel (Funambulus layardi laysrdi), Dusky-striped Jungle Squirrel (Funambulus sublineatus obscurus), Small Flying Squirrel (Petynomys fuscocapillus layardi), Golden-palm Civet (Paradoxurus zeylonensis), Ringed-tail Civet (Viverricula indica mayori), Brown Mongoose (Herpestes fuscus rubidior), Stripe-necked Mongoose (Herpestes vitticollis), Otter (Lutra lutra nair), Porcupine (Hystrix indica) and Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) are the small mammal species can be discovered in this Sinharaja Rain Forest.

Rufous Horse-shoe Bat (Rhinolophus rouxi rouxi), Great Horse-shoe Bat (Rhinolophus luctus sobrinus), Great Leaf-nosed Bat (Hipposideros lankadiva), False Vampire Bat (Megaderma spasma ceylonense), Kelaart’s Pipistrel Bat (Pipistrellus ceylonicus), Painted Bat (Kirivoula picta) and Short-nosed Fruit Bat (Cynopterus sphinx) are the forest bat species can be watched in this rain forest. However, travelers can discover wide range of mammals in this amazing rain forest, called “Sinharaja”.

Birds in Sinharaja Rain Forest

According to the records, that out of total bird species in Sri Lanka, Sinharaja represents around 38% species and out of all country’s endemic birds, it has around 90% bird species. Same as other forests and sanctuaries, this rain forest also has resident birds as well as migrant birds. There are various birds can be categorized based on their flock status such as nuclear status, regular, occasional, rare and very rare status.

Crested Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus), Sri Lanka Rufous Babbler (Turdoides rufescens), Yellow-fronted Barbet (Megalaima flavifrons), Sri Lanka White-eye (Zosterops ceylonensis), Yellow-browed Bulbul (Hypsipetes indicus) and White-headed Starling (Sturnus senex) are the nuclear bird species that can be seen in this Sinharaja Rain Forest. Trogon (Harpactes fasciatus), Orange Minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus), Yellow-naped Woodpecker (Picus chlorolophus), Red-faced Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus), Ashy-headed Babbler (Garrulax cinereifrons), Azure Flycatcher (Monarcha azurea), Pied Shrike (Hemipus picatus), Black-fronted Babbler (Rhopocichla atriceps), Legge’s Flowerpecker (Dicaeum vincens), Tickell’s Flowerpecker (Dicaeum erythrorhynchos) and Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis) are the regular birds that traveler can watch here. 

Layard’s Parakeet (Psittacula calthorpae), Black-capped Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanicterus), Southern Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus horsfieldii), Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes madagascariensis) and Crimson-backed Woodpecker (Chrysocolaptes lucidus) are the bird species that occasionally can be seen in this forest.

Purple-rumped Sunbird (Nectarinia zeylonica), Sri Lanka Grackle (Gracula ptilogenys), Greenish Tree-Warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides), Sri Lanka Lorikeet (Loriculus beryllinus), Orange-breasted Blue Flycatcher (Muscicapa tickelliae) and White-vented Drongo (Dicrurus caerulescens) are the birds rarely can be watched in this heritage. Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia), Large-billed Tree-Warbler (Phylloscopus magnirostris), Grey Tit (Parus  major), Gold-fronted Chloropsis (Chloropsis aurifrons), Black-headed Oriole (Oriolus xanthornus,  Paradise-Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradise), Spotted-winged Thrush (Zoothera spiloptera), Bronze-winged Dove (Chalcophaps indica), Red-winged Crested-Cuckoo (Clamator coromandus), White-backed Munia (Lonchura striata), Brown Shrike (Lanius criststus), Black-headed Cuckoo-Shrike (Coracina melanoptera), Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler (Pellorneum fuscocapillum) and Indian Blue Chat (Erithacus brunneus) are the bird species very rarely can be watched. 

Reptiles in Sinharaja Rain Forest

In this Sinharaja Rain Forest, travelers can discover about 25% of snakes species, out of Sri Lanka’s all snake species and 37% of tetrapod species, out of Sri Lanka’s all tetrapod species. There are various reptiles can be categorized under snakes, Lizards and Geckoes and Skinks.

Green-pit Viper (Trimerasurus trinoncephalus), Merrem’s Hump-nosed Viper (Hypnale hypnale), Walli’s Hump-nosed Viper (Hypnale walli), Russell’s Viper (Vipera russelli), Sri Lanka Krait (Bungarus ceylonicus), Common Cobra (Naja naja), Sri Lanka Wolf-snake (Cercaspis carinatus), Barnes Cat Snake (Boiga barnesi), Kukri snake (Oligodon calamarius), Dumeril’s Kukri Snake(Oligodon sublinensis), Blossom Krait (Balanophis ceylonensis), Drummond-hays Rough Snake (Aspidura drummondhayi), Gunther’s Bronze-back (Dendrelaphis caudolineolatus), Green-whip Snake (Dryophis nasutus), Brown-speckled Whip Snake (Dryophis pulverulentus), Ornate Flying Snake (Chrysopelea ornate), Chequered Keelback (Xenochrophis asperrimus), Python (Python molurus), Sri Lanka Pipe Snake (Cylindrophis maculatus), Deraniyagala’s Earth Snake (Rhinophis tricolorata) and Black-spined Snake (Haplocercus ceylonensis) are Lizards and Geckoes species that travelers can discover in Sinharaja. 

Rat-snake Skink (Mabuya carinata), Spotted Skink (Mabuya macularia), Smooth Skink (Sphenomorphus taprobanensis) and Three-toed Snake Skink (Nessia burtoni) are the skinks species that can be watched in this bio-diversity site-Sinharaja Rain Forest. 

Amphibians in Sinharaja Rain Forest

It is recorded, that out of total amphibian species in Sri Lanka, Sinharaja represents around 54% species of them. Therefore, travelers have the opportunity to discover many amphibians in this site. Wrinkled Frog (Rana corrugate), Sri Lanka Reed Frog (Rana greeni), Lesser Wood Frog (Rana aurantiaca), Slender Wood frog (Rana gracilis), Guenther’s Cliff Frog (Nannophrys guentheri), Sharp nosed Tree Frog (Rhacophorus nasutus), Small-eared Tree Frog (Rhacophorus microtympanum), Greater Hourglass Tree Frog (Rhacophorus cruciger), Wrinkled Tree Frog (Philautus schmardanus), Variable Tree Frog (Philautus variabilis), Lesser Sharp-nosed Tree Frog (Philautus nasutus), Red Ramanella (Ramnella palmate), Common Toad (Bufo melanostictus), Torrent Toad (Bufo kelaartii) and Yellow-banned Caecillian (Ichthyophys glutinosus) the amphibian species and types that can be discovered in Sinharaja Rain Forest.

Fish in Sinharaja Rain Forest

At the Sinharaja Rain Forest, travelers are able to find only three species of fish which are commonly occurring in all forest streams. They are; Comb-tail (Belontia signata) with red tinted fins, the Stone-sucker (Garra lamata ceylonensis) and the striped loach (Neomachilus notostigma). 

Inspects & Invertebrate Wildlife in Sinharaja Rain Forest

There are several species of insects and other invertebrate wildlife including mosquito fauna, butterfly fauna, inspects and other invertebrate forms. It is recorded that Sinharaja has 27 species of mosquitos including Orthopodomia flavithorax, Culex uniforms, C. uniformis, Tripteroides affinis, Tripteroides dofleini and Armigeres magnus. And there are about 65 butterfly species can be found there too. 

Sri Lanka Tree Nymph (Idea lynceus jasonia), Glassy Tiger (Danaus aglea aglea), Common Bushbrown (Mycalesia perseus typhlus), Sri Lanka Common Birdwing (Troides helena darsius), Sri Lanka Clipper (Parthenos sylvia cyaneus), Common Banded Peacock (Papilio crino), Sri Lanka Blue Mormon (Papilio polymnestor parinda), Common Mormon (Papilio polytes Romulus), Sri Lanka Red Helen (Papilio helenus mooreanus), Sri Lanka Five-bar Swordtail (Graphium antiphates ceylonicus), Sri Lanka Blue Oakleaf (Kallima philarchus philarchus), Great Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina), Danaid Crow (Euploea sp.) and Redspot Duke (Euthalia evelina evelina) are some of common and interesting butterfly spcies that can be watched in Sinharaja Rain Forest. 

In addition to that, the specific two endemic insect species of wasps of the family “Loboscelidae” are recorded from Sinharaja as the only destination that anyone can see that species in Asian region. The land leech (Haemadipsa ceylanica), the Giant earthworm (Megascoles coeruleus), the Giant millipede (Spirostreptus sp.), the Giant pill-box millipede (Arthosheaera versicolor), the Giant woodspider (Nephila maculata) and the Scorpion (Heterometrus spp.) are other invertebrate forms that can be found in this Sinharaja Rain Forest. 

Therefore, this one of amazing world heritage sites, Sinharaja Rain Forest should not be missed to travel and discover, because it is a best travel destination in Sri Lanka as well as is well known eco-tourism destination in Sri Lanka and the Asia!

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