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Mammals of Sinharaja

 

In sinharaja, as in any rain forest, the presence of larger mammals is indicated in the form of droppings, tracks, calls ect. The terrain and structure of the forest, however, make visual sightings comparatively difficult.

                      The Purple-faced leaf Monkey is perhaps the most observable of the mammals. These monkey move in grounds of 10 to 14, high up in forest canopy and their territorial calls echo for ,miles around the forest. The Toque Monkey is rare the forest but is more commonly observed in the peripheral areas.

 Several large mammals are characteristically terrestrial and feed off the forest floor. This group includes herbivorous browsers and mixed feeders, such as the Wild Pig, the Sambhur, the Mouse Deer and the Barking Deer. Although Elephants were common in the periphery of the forest before the logging project, they have not been sighted in the western sector since 1974. However, a small group has been reported in the remnant grassland patches of the Handapan-Ella and Thangamali plains which are contiguous with the northeastern part of the forest.

                       The major carnivore of the forest is the Leopard. Leopards are seldom sighted but their presence is frequently confirmed by tracks and other sings. Genuinely rare are the Rusty-spotted Cat and the Fishing Cat, while in the periphery of the forest. 

Several large mammals are characteristically terrestrial and feed off the forest floor. This group includes herbivorous browsers and mixed feeders, such as the Wild Pig, the Sambhur, the Mouse Deer and the Barking Deer. Although Elephants were common in the periphery of the forest before the logging project, they have not been sighted in the western sector since 1974. However, a small group has been reported in the remnant grassland patches of the Handapan-Ella and Thangamali plains which are contiguous with the northeastern part of the forest.

                       The major carnivore of the forest is the Leopard. Leopards are seldom sighted but their presence is frequently confirmed by tracks and other sings. Genuinely rare are the Rusty-spotted Cat and the Fishing Cat, while in the periphery of the forest. 

Of the nocturnal species, the two commonly recorded are the civets and the mongooses. Among these are Civet, an endemic species, and the Striped-necked Mongoose. The Sighting of the latter in 1982 was particularly in sinharaja are mainly rats, shrews and squirrels. Several significant sightings have been made in this group. The Bicoloured Rat and the Spiny Rat, both endemic genera, were found here, as were the endemic species of shrews, the Long-tailed Shrew and the Horsefield's Shrew. The Bi-coloured Rat and the Long-tailed Shrew have been recorded earlier only at elevations of 1,000 meters and above. The records for Sinharaja at 300 to 500 meters show that they have a considerably wider distribution than thought earlier. The Horsefield's Shrew too had earlier been recorded only in the eastern range of the central hills, hence the sightings at Sinharaja mark the first record of its occurrence in the wet lowlands. 

                       The small mammals in particular formed the focus of quantitative studies carried out in the early 1980's. the results of comparative studies in three different types of habitats, viz. underscored the importance of undisturbed forests for the survival of endemic species. "The Bicoloured Rat, for example, which was predominant in natural sites disappeared at the slightest disturbance. This indicated the high habitat sensitivity of species. On the other hand, the species such as the spiny Rat appeared to be more adaptable and seemed able to exploit natural forest gaps as well as disturbed sites such as logged forest. There is also clear evidence that natural species are beging repidly displaced by aggressive commensals such as the Bandicoot and the Common House Rat.

                        There species of squirrels are common in the forest, the Flame-striped Jungle Squirrel, the Dusky-striped Jungle Squirrel and the Western Giant Squirrel. The latter is an arboreal species; so is the Flying Squirrel seen at dusk. Among other mammals recorded in the forest are the Porcupine and the Pangolin.

                        Bats are a characteristic group of mammals in the Asian tropics. Six species have been recorded in sinharaja, all of which are insectivorous species. It is interesting that the familiar Flying Fox or Fruit Bat has not been recorded in the forest. The only frugivorous species observed, the Short-nosed Fruit Bat has been sighted at Kudawa, on the outskirts of the forest.

A complete list of all mammals

Common Name Scientific Name
Large mammals
   Elephant Elephas maximus maximus
   Sambhur Cervus unicolour
   Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak malabaricus
   Mouse Deer Tragulus meminna
   Wild Pig Sus scrofa cristatus
   Leopard Panthera pardus fusca
   Fishing Cat Zibethailurus viverrina
   Rusty Spotted Cat Prionailurus rubiginosa
  *Western Purple-Faced Leaf Monkey Presbytis senes vetulus
   Jackal Canis aureus lanka
  *Western Toque Macaque Macaca sinica aurifrons
Small mammals
**Sri Lanka Bi-coloured Rat Srilankamis ohiensis
**Spiny Rat Coelomys mayori pococki
   House Rat Rattus rattus kandiyanus
   House Rat Rattus rattus kelaarti
   Greater Bandicoot Rat Bandicota indica
   Field Mouse Mus cervicolour fulvidiventris
  *Sri Lanka Long-tailed Shrew Crocidura miya
   Horsefield's Shrew Crocidura horsefieldi
  *House Shrew Suncus ceylanicus
   Western giant Squirrel Ratufa macroura melanochra
Flame-striped Jungle Squirrel Funambulus layardi laysrdi
   Dusky-striped Jungle Squirrel Funambulus sublineatus obscurus
   Small Flying Squirrel Petynomys fuscocapillus layardi
  *Golden-palm Civet Paradoxurus zeylonensis
   Ringed-tail Civet Viverricula indica mayori
   Brown Mongoose Herpestes fuscus rubidior
   Stripe-necked Mongoose Herpestes vitticollis
   Otter Lutra lutra nair
   Porcupine Hystrix indica
   Pangolin Manis crassicaudata
Forest Bats
   Rufous Horse-shoe Bat Rhinolophus rouxi rouxi
   Great Horse-shoe Bat Rhinolophus luctus sobrinus
   Great Leaf-nosed Bat Hipposideros lankadiva
   False Vampire Bat Megaderma spasma ceylonense
   Kelaart's Pipistrel Bat Pipistrellus ceylonicus
   Painted Bat Kirivoula picta
   Short-nosed Fruit Bat Cynopterus sphinx
* Endemic species            ** Endemic genera