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Updated by Joanna James on Aug 13, 2018
Headline for List of rare animals in Sri Lanka -The top three must-see animals
Joanna James Joanna James
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List of rare animals in Sri Lanka -The top three must-see animals

Sri Lanka is a fantastic place for seeing many of the wild animals of the Indian Sub-continent! This island-country is home to Asian elephants, leopards, monkeys, mongoose, sloth bears, jackals, Sambar and chital deer, water buffalo and wild boars.


Sri Lankan Elephant

Sri Lankan Elephant

With a finger-like appendage on their trunk, and standing at a height of 2 to 3.5m, the Sri Lankan elephant is one of the three subspecies of Asian elephants and is endemic to Sri Lanka. IUCN included the Sri Lankan elephant in its list of endangered species in 1986, as the increasing population and loss of natural habitat has led to a steady decline in the numbers of this magnificent species.
For Sri Lankans, however, elephants are no big wonder, as they use the creatures in their religious processions as well. It is not uncommon to see an elephant walking along the road with its mahout, while a separate orphanage for elephants has been established in an effort to preserve them. If you wish to see these gigantic beasts, you could visit the orphanage, a large temple or if you seek to see them in the wild, visit many of the wildlife parks in Sri Lanka.


Sri Lankan Leopard

Sri Lankan Leopard

The Sri Lankan leopard is an elusive creature, which is endemic to Sri Lanka. With a rusty yellow coat and close-set rosettes, the Sri Lankan leopard is found in the arid zone, wet zone as well as dry zone. However, the densest population of these endangered animals are found in Yala National Park. This makes the park a highly popular attraction for wildlife enthusiasts, with many Yala hotels such as Cinnamon Wild Yala organizing safaris to the park.
If you wish to see this elusive predator, you must visit at dusk or dawn, and seek the help of professional guides as the leopards are very skilled in hiding. While their diet consists mainly of spotted deer, sambar, and monkeys, human-leopard conflicts are not unheard of.


Sri Lankan sloth bear

Sri Lankan sloth bear

The sloth bear is the only type of bear found in Sri Lanka and is endangered to such an extent that the wild bear population is as low as 500. Rapidly increasing population, which leads to the loss of dry forests is the main cause for this steady decline of sloth bear population. Unlike other animals, the sloth bear is unable to survive without the natural forest. Their diet consists of plants, fruits, termites, honeybees, carrion and small insects. If you take a safari in Yala National Park, you might come across a sloth bear with its hairless snout poking into a rotting stump in an attempt to gulp down a few of its favourite insects for a mid-day snack. The snout of the sloth bear is unique and has a jutting lower lip and a special palate to facilitate sucking of insects. In addition to that, the sloth bear differs from the brown or black bears in their built and facial features. The sloth bear is lanky and has a shaggy coat that hangs off from its face like an extended mane. The claws are sickle-like to aid in ripping apart of stumps to get to insects.
Human-bear attacks are rather common in Sri Lanka, though, as the sloth bears are fierce and very protective of their territory. However, there are instances where these creatures have been used for entertainment purposes as the sloth bear can easily be trained.

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