Diversity of Reptiles in the Eastern and Southern parts of the Sinharaja Rain Forest

V.A.M.P.K.1 Samarawickrama, H.I.G.C. Kumara, D.R.N.S. Samarawickrama

Abstract


The Sinharaja Forest Reserve is located in the Southern as well as Sabaragamuwa provinces in the wet zone, between latitudes 6o21-6o26 N and longitudes 80o21-80o34 E is one of the biologically unique Tropical Forest in Sri Lanka. Although Sinharaja is considered a lowland rain forest, the Eastern part of the forest consists montane and sub-montane forests. Many scholars have already researched on reptiles in the lowland rain forests of Sri Lanka including Sinharaja, however, they have not significantly attended to the diversity of reptiles in the Eastern and Southern parts of the Sinharaja forest. Considering this gap, the research focuses on studying diversity of reptiles in diverse lowland rain forests, montane and sub-montane forests in the Southern and Eastern parts of Sinharaja. Giguruwa-Kosmulla and Pitadeniya sites in the Southern part, and Hadpanella and Morningside in the Eastern part are selected as study areas of the research. 16 line transects (as four from each site) and quadrate 16 samples (as four from each site) are used for primary data collecting. Lowland rain forests, montane and sub-montane forests are identified as biologically sensitive habitats of reptiles. High number of native reptile species are recorded in lowland rain forests than in montane and sub-montane forests. 36 reptile species are identified in Southern and Eastern parts of the Sinharaja forest and 19 species of them are endemic to Sri Lanka. Among them, 05 vulnerable species, 04 endangered species, 05 critically endangered species are recorded. Many threats have been found, however, among them issues of bio piracy loss of forest genetic resources and wildlife smuggling, illegal forest utilisation practices, gem mining, illegal forest encroachments and unethical tourism practices are major issues. Thus, state forest department and other responsible authorities must attend to minimize the effects of these negative human impact on these vulnerable areas to protect sensitive reptile species in their habitats in order to conserve their diversity.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.31357/jtfe.v9i1.3948

DOI (PDF): https://doi.org/10.31357/jtfe.v9i1.3948.g3116

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Journal of Tropical Forestry and Environment,

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka