Kathy Hinde

4 April, 2019

Sinhiraja & Udawalawe

SURA MEDURA Residency, Spring 2019 – Blog post :

Four of us on the residency went away for a 2 day trip in search of a wilder side of Sri Lanka. To the rainforest…

Sinhiraja rain forest is the last area of primary rainforest in Sri lanka and a biodiversity hotspot with many endemic and rare species. Following much deforestation across Sri Lanka, this area is protected and was declared a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a World Heritage Site in 1988.

It was transformative to enter into such a rich and biodiverse environment. I could sense the vibrancy of life there, it was palpable. We learnt about some extraordinary and unique species, and gained some insight into the incredible complexity of how this ecosystem inter-relates, every species large and small playing a crucial part of this web of life. We even saw a plant that has ants living inside its stems; both plant and insects benefiting from a unique, symbiotic relationship.

I was staggered at just how many different species we saw on our half day. I can’t remember everything… so here is an incomplete list, just a fraction of what coexists there … green pit vipers, scorpions, eagles, tree crabs, monkeys, giant wood spiders, enormous millipedes, green garden lizards, fish owls, leaches (too many!), tree frogs, …  and so many different kinds of trees, vegetation and fungi, complex mosaic’s of root systems intertwined, with enormous twisting vines engulfing trees to create new beautiful structures and forms.

And then there is the sound of Sinhiraja. Symphonies of cicadas who’s almost choral intensity rises and falls in waves accompanied by a sporadic ensemble of frog croaks, intermittent calls from monkeys and a myriad of birdcalls. To be suddenly drenched to the skin by heavy rain made for a full sensory experience – enveloped in the mysterious wonders of the rain forest.

Some photos from Sinhiraja (which translates to Lion Kingdom).

lizard1small millipede2small millipede1smallrainforestleaves2small rainforestleaves1small spider3small pitviper1small monkey2smallkapok1smallsinhiraja team1small 

We also planned an afternoon trip to Udawalawe National Park, which is a large area of mostly grassland with a large reservoir. It’s an important reserve for the protection of elephants and there are also many bird species, along with water buffalo, monkeys, land monitors, mongoose. It is only possible to enter by open-top jeep… some photos…

elephant15small elephant8small bee-eaters1small beeeaters_bathing_small2waterbuffalo1small landmonitor1small