The Sri Lankan Leopard that attracts many a visitor to Yala National Park…

Sri Lanka boasts of many endemic mammals, mainly land based, where 20 such species can be observed out of about 110 species of mammals living in the country.  About 3/4th of total mammals of the country are land based mammals whilst the remainder belongs to mammals living in the ocean surrounding the island.  The endemic leopard, commonly named as “kotiya” is a distinct species amongst the land based mammals of Sri Lanka.

This is a subspecies of leopards which is endemic to Sri Lanka that has a yellow rusty coat.  It is highly endangered and only found in well protected areas such as Yala National Park, Vilpattu National Park (both located in arid zones of Sri Lanka) and certain hilly locations such as Nallathanniya, closer to the famous Adam’s Peak. It moves very swiftly and appears to be somewhat shy. A common observation akin to Sri Lankan Leopard similar to other leopards is that it can be seen on top of trees when it sets out for hunting. It’s common diet consists of spotted deer, monkeys etc.  Capturing one through your own lenses in its habitat is a privilege if you are a wild life enthusiast.

“Kotiya” the endemic leopard of Sri Lanka

Common name: Sri Lankan Leopard or “kotiya”
Scientific name: Panthera pardus kotiya
Date: 05th August 2019
Time: 12:00 p.m.
Location: Yala, National Park, Sri Lanka
Photographed by: Dhananjaya Wijeratne

Sri Lanka…a paradise for birds & bird lovers!

Home to over 440 species of birds consisting of both residents and migrants one can observe and identify 238 resident species that includes 33 endemic species in the island nation. Central hills and western slopes & wet zone of the country are the common habitats for the majority of endemic species. Out of the migrants there are about 100 species that visit the island on regular basis, mostly seasonally during the year.

The country possesses three key geographical locations declared as national parks, which are abundant with many such species, namely, Vilpattu, Kumana and Yala National Parks. They are protected national parks for many animal species including endemic species of birds and other animals such as amphibians and mammals. Apart from such specifically declared wild life parks there are several other forested areas that are declared as sanctuaries for birds and animals. Thalangama Lake at Battaramulla, Udawatta Kelle in Kandy, Kurulu Kelle in Kegalle, Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Madiwela Sanctuary at Thalawathugoda are to name a few where some are located amongst populated residential areas, specifically within the low country Wet Zone of the island. A handful of such endemic birds captured through the lens of a bird enthusiast, Dhananjaya Wijeratne are highlighted below.

The Crimson Fronted Barbet is an endemic bird which can be found in most of the woody areas in Sri Lanka.  It is fairly a small barbet which is also called the Sri Lanka Barbet.  This bird can commonly be observed in forested areas such as Udawattakele in Kandy and also frequents the areas surrounding Thalangama Lake at Battaramulla in the suburbs of Colombo.  As suggested by the name the red forehead is a prominent feature specific to this beautiful bird.

Common name: Crimson Fronted Barbet (Sri Lanka Barbet)
Scientific name: Psilopogon rubicapillus
Date: 20th December 2019
Time: 07:00
Location: Thalangama Lake, Battaramulla, Sri Lanka
Photographed by: Dhananjaya Wijeratne

Another endemic species of birds which can be commonly found in hilly areas and low country wet zone of Sri Lanka is the Yellow Fronted Barbet. It is also commonly called “Mukalan Kottoruwa”, which is a bird larger in comparison to the Crimson Fronted Barbet. This bird can be commonly sighted clearly in gardens in Ella, Sri Lanka in the morning hours just after sun rise. Labugama, Sri Lanka, which is bordering the Kelani Valley, is another location where this bird can be observed that has a blue face with a yellow forehead, which are prominent characteristic features.

Common name: Yellow Fronted Barbet, Mukalan Kottoruwa
Scientific name: Psilopogon flavifrons
Date: 28th December 2019
Time: 07:00
Location: Ella, Sri Lanka
Photographed by: Dhananjaya Wijeratne

Adding color and glamour to the list of endemic birds in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, which is scientifically called Loriculus beryllinus. This parrot can be found in hilly areas quite commonly and is very small often with a length of about 16 centimeters.  Common habitats include primary forests such Sinharaja and garden areas in Ella. It resembles a ”hanging” feature which gives this bird its common name.

Common name: Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot
Scientific name: Loriculus beryllinus
Date: 28th December 2019
Time: 06:58
Location: Ella, Sri Lanka
Photographed by: Dhananjaya Wijeratne

A couple of rare capturing that adds color and glamor to fauna of Sri Lanka

Painted Stork at Yala captured by Dananjaya Wijeratne
Scaly Breasted Munia at Thalangama Lake, Battaramulla captured by Dananjaya Wijeratne