Despite its small size, due to the highest rates of biological endemism in plants or animals, Sri Lanka is included among the top five biodiversity hotspots in the world. Of the ninety-one species of mammals found in Sri Lanka, the Asian elephants, sloth bear, leopards, sambar and wild buffaloes, engages the attention of the majority of the wildlife enthusiast. Yet, the rarest mammals of Sri Lanka are the red slender Loris, Toque Macaque, and Purple-faced Langur, who, according to the IUCN, are included in the ‘Red List of Threatened Species’.
The diversity of Lanka’s wildlife is celebrated and conserved at many wildlife sanctuaries found around the country. With a history of protection and compassion extended to all the living beings, Sri Lanka’s first animal sanctuary had been recorded as far as third century BC- by the time of the arrival of Arhant Mahinda in the country and introduced Buddhism.
Besides the mighty elephants and rare amphibians found in the country, it is also a paradise for bird watching, and are a glory of the Sri Lanka’s wildlife. Boasting nearly 433 bird species of which 233 are resident Sri Lanka, and 20 are endemic species while another 80 species have developed distinct Sri Lankan races, compared to their cousins in the Indian mainland.