Mammals of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has 113 mammalian species which includes 16 terrestrial and 28 marine mammals endemic to Sri Lanka. The endemic mammals include the ‘big four’ – Sri Lankan Elephant, Sloth Bear, Leopard and the Blue Whale. The Sri Lankan Elephant (Elephas maximus maximus) is listed as endangered by IUCN with an estimated wild elephant population numbering 5, 879 with the country being recognized as having the highest density of elephants in Asia. These wild elephants can be seen in Udawalawe, Yala, Wilpattu, Minneriya, Wasgamuwa and the Lunugamwehere. The Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) is considered a highly threatened species with a population of less than 1000 living in the wild and is best observed in Yala, Wilpattu and Minneriya. The Leopard (Panthera pardus) is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ on the IUCN Red list. Its population in the wild numbers 835 and is best observed in Yala, recognized as having the highest leopard densities in the world. The Blue Whale’s worldwide population is estimated to be between 5000 and 12000 and is currently classified as endangered on the IUCN Red list. The southern tip of Sri Lanka is the finest place in the world for whale watching as the Whale’s migration path is just off Dondra Point. Some of the endangered and vulnerable terrestrial mammals that can be seen in Sri Lanka include the Red Slender Loris (Loris tardigradus), Toque Macaque (Macaca sinica), Purple Faced Langur (Trachypithecus vetulus), Golden Palm Civet (Paradoxurus zeylonensis) and the Jungle Shrew (Suncus zeylanicus).