Overall, about 22 percent of Sri Lanka’s amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles and 27 percent of our plants are endemic!
With such an extensive list of wildlife you’d think that Sri Lanka should be a large country…Contrary to popular thinking, Sri Lanka is actually one of the smallest countries in the world only 250 miles long and 150 miles wide, the size of an Ireland or Tasmania. However, it is blessed with a natural beauty and diversity that’s simply awe-inspiring. The main reason for this incredible diversity is the widely differing altitudes within the country, ranging from sea level to 2500m above sea level. Traveling from Sri Lanka’s coastal belt to Nuwara Eliya in the highlands, within the space of a couple of hours you’ll experience a refreshing change of scenery, from miles and miles of palm-lined golden coast to misty mountains and velvety tea plantations, and a total difference in climate from warm and sunny to the cool and temperate climate in the central highlands. For a small island our species diversity is certainly impressive, and has been made possible because of our ideal geographical position, mild yet variable climate, very interesting topography and soil, thus creating many habitats for such a diverse array of flora and fauna.
Sri Lanka can be divided climatically into the smaller wet southwestern and the larger dry northeastern regions. These areas are home to very different species and many species are found in only one particular zone. Some animals however have become more associated with humans over the years, and can be found throughout the island.
Our country is the sole remaining home for hundreds of species of plants and animals. Sadly, human expansion, and loss of habitat have resulted in the reduction and extinction of many species. Today, about 43 species have been listed as threatened by the World Conservation Union. This includes Sri Lanka’s own majestic elephant, the sloth bear and the leopard. However, at last we have stood up and taken notice of this important dilemma and started taking active steps towards protecting and conserving our precious and unique wildlife.