Thursday, February 10, 2011

#563 Sri Lanka...Thanks Ravindra!

These 4 stamps were issued in September,2010 showing bio-diversity in Horton Plain National Park of Sri Lanka.

Horton Plains National Park is in the highlands of the Sri Lanks belonging to central province. This is the highest plateau in the country. This was declared as a National Park in 1988. The park area is 3160 hectare.

The second & third highest mountains of the country namely Kirigalpotta & Thotupola respectively are found within the borders of the park. Park receives rainfall from both northeast & southwest monsoons as well as inter-monsoonal rains. Frequently occurring mist and clouds are one main source of precipitation. With annual precipitation of about 5000mm Horton Plains is the most important catchments area of the country. Three major rivers of the country start from this area namely Kelani, Walawe & the Mahaweli the longest river of the country. There is a slight dry period between January to March. Due to altitude the area is comparatively cold. Mean annual temperature is around 15C and during colder months it will go down further where it is cold enough to create ground frost.

Park consists of montane cloud forests embedded in wet montane grasslands. Horton Plains has rich biodiversity. Most of the fauna and flora found in the park are endemic and furthermore some of them are confined to highlands of the island.

Forests are dominated by Calophyllum sp. & Syzygium sp. Giant tree fern Cyathea sp. and colourful Rhododrendron are among the main attractions. Park is also famous for beautiful flowers of endemic Nellu (Strobilanthes sp.), Bovitiya (Osbeckia sp.), Binara (Exacum trinervium) and many other orchid species. Endemic dwarf Bamboo (Arundinaria densifolia) dominates the edges of the river while Chrysopogon zeylanicum and Garnotia mutica dominate the grasslands.

Though this was one of the best elephant habitats in the country they are locally extinct due to poaching & sports hunting occurred during the British colonial era. Leopard and Sambhur & wild boar are the most common large mammals in Horton Plains. Endemic Bear Monkey, Rusty- Spotted and Fishing cats, Otter, Black napped hare and Giant Squirrel are among other mammals. Many species of endemic & threatened rats & shrews are also found in the park. Diversity & endemicity of reptiles (Lizards) and amphibians are remarkably high.

Though this is cold highland plateau the bird diversity is very high. More than 70% of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds are found here.

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