Kitulgala-Kelani Forest Reserve | Sinharaja & Kitulgala | Red Dot

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Kitulgala-Kelani Forest Reserve

The Kelani Forest Reserve in Kitulgala was established to protect the watershed of the Kelani River and is home to many species of Sri Lanka’s endemic flora and fauna. When exploring the forest in search of the wide variety of creatures which inhabit this area, it is advisable to take leech socks and plenty of insect repellent. The Kitulgala-Kelani Forest Reserve is also the hub of adventure activities in Sri Lanka: go white-water rafting on grade 3 and 4 rapids; trek or ride on mountain bikes through the jungle-clad hills; try canoeing along the river, or wander through the rubber and low-country tea plantations. The breath-taking scenery here was chosen as the backdrop for the Oscar-winning classic `The Bridge over the River Kwai’ by David Lean – explore the stunning landscape by taking a boat ride along the river.


Many of the lowland endemics can be seen in Kitulgala including the Green-bill Coucal, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler, Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Spot-winged Thrush, Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Layard’s Parakeet, Sri Lanka Orange-billed Babbler, White-faced Starling, Legg’s Flowerpecker, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Sri Lanka Myna, Yellow-fronted Barbet and the Serendip Scops Owl, which was heard for the first time in this forest. Other specialties include the elusive Dollar Bird, Ceylon Frogmouth, Hill Swallow, Black-throated Munia, Black Bulbul & Black-capped Bulbul.


Kitulgala is an excellent place for spotting rare species of butterfly, and most of the endemics can be seen here too. The Tawny Raja, Red Helen, Blue Mormon, Tree Nymph, Common Blue Bottle and Blue Oak Leaf can be seen, to name a few.

Amphibians and Reptiles

This rainforest is home to many of Sri Lanka’s endemic amphibians, as well as the elusive Earless Lizard, Kangaroo Lizard and Hump-Nosed Lizard. Many species of frogs can be seen (or rather heard) in the forest, and the streams hold a vast number of fresh water fish that are mostly endemic and endangered.


As well as several varieties of bats and mice, the mammals in the Kitulgala-Kelani Forest Reserve include the Purple-Faced Leaf Monkey, Grizzled Indian Squirrel, Layard’s Striped Squirrel, Wild Boar and Mouse Deer.

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