Elephants, Sri Lanka

Flora and Fauna

The bio-diversity of Sri Lanka is nearly inexhaustible. About 3,400 botanical species are resident in this tropical paradise, of which 92% can be found in the wet zones of the island in altitudes of zero to 350 m. Only 18% of the flora appears in the vast areas of the dry zone, which covers at least 65% of the land surface. Sri Lanka is roughly divided into a dry zone and a wet zone.

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Additionally, there are the mist-shrouded central highlands, which at first glance appear like Scotland rather than a tropical, equatorial area. This is the third vegetation zone with its countless plantations and its endless green. It is this versatility that creates the ideal conditions for tropical and temperate plants and sends visitors into a frenzy of colours and scents. In the untouched areas of the protected Singharaja rain forest, more than 100 different species of orchids can be found amidst lush undergrowth and majestic tree giants. Even along the roads one can easily become intoxicated by the colour variety of the bougainvillea growing like weed, by the Frangipani with their charming blossoms spreading their sweet scent only in the evening, or by the vast variety of different kinds of palm trees.

The most sparse of all regions is the dry zone in the North and East, which almost looks African with its savannas, shrubs and the red Rhododendron.  

The time between March and May is the period of blossom for many plants. The fiery-red Flamboyant (Poinciana regia), the white-blossoming Nagastree and also the Tabebuia rosea, similar to cherry flowers, are especially striking. The many different types of orchids, which can be found all over the island, are every photographer’s delight.

Sri Lanka can boast an animal diversity for which it is envied by many other, bigger countries. Due to its island position it has an enormous number of endemic animal species. From the great elephant up to the smallest insect, Sri Lanka is home to countless different species. Even today, wild elephants, bears, crocodiles, buffaloes, jackals, wild boars, peacocks and various simian kinds can be admired in  national parks like Yala, Uda Walawe and Gal Oya. With some luck one can even discover isolated leopards. More often – also within the hotels – one encounters the popular geckos and the striped chipmunks. 43 Sri Lankan animal species are on the list of threatened animals, among them the sloth bear and all turtle species.