The island nation of Sri Lanka lies off the south east coast of India, and was formerly referred to as Ceylon during the period in which the island was a part of the British Empire. Boasting a large number of beautiful beaches and a wonderful tropical climate, it would have long been established as a beach holiday destination was it not for the internal conflict in Sri Lanka. This small island is a truly beautiful place to go on holiday, and has some wonderful wildlife along with some of the most amazing natural sites to visit.
Hurulu Forest Reserve
This is one of the oldest and most important natural sites to be found in Sri Lanka, having first been founded in 1977. This reserve is an excellent example of the evergreen forests that used to dominate much of the island, and also provides valuable habitats for the Sri Lankan Elephant. Along with the elephants, there are a number of other endangered species also to be found in the park, including the Sri Lankan Leopard and the Indian Star Tortoise.
There is a limited nomadic population of natives actually living in the park, and one of the most difficult challenges is managing and balancing the habitats of these endangered animals along with the needs of the people.
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
When it comes to nature tourism, there are few animals as popular as the elephants when it comes to attracting visitors, and the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage attracts many visitors every year. The main aspect of the site for visitors is that it allows people to see the native herds of elephants bathing in the MahaOyaRiver.
The orphanage itself was founded in 1975 because of the number of orphaned elephants being found in the country, but today is home to over eighty elephants.
Shortened to KDN by most people, this area of forest in the south of Sri Lanka is remarkable because of the diversity of plants and flowers to be found in the area. Around half of all the species of tree to be found in this park are actually native to the area and are not found elsewhere. The rainfall here is significantly heavier than in other parts of the country, giving the forest a different feel. Many of the birds are endangered, including the Green-Billed Coucal and the Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, but it is the Sri Lanka Junglefowl that is most commonly spotted as it mainly resides on the ground and is brightly colored.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve
The Sinharaja Forest Reserve is one of the most important and attractive locations in the country, and although it is small it is particularly important because of the rare species to be found in this lowland rainforest park. For visitors to the reserve, nature spotting is particularly difficult due to the dense undergrowth, but the beautiful waterfalls and streams are superb. The soundtrack to the forest reserve is provided by the superb range of birds that are native to the area, including the Orange-Billed Babbler and the Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo.
The Bar Reef
Although many of the most important natural sites to be found in Sri Lanka itself, the Bar Reef lies just off the west coast of the island, near the town of Kalpitiya. The Bar Reef is not actually one reef, but a network of different coral reefs that boast some of the best biodiversity in the region, with over 150 species of coral and over 280 species of fish. This is one area that is particularly threatened by activities in the area such as fishing and human agriculture, which is why it is now a protected Special Management Area.