Author: Kamburugamuwa Yaddehige Ganeshapriya
Date of Trip: February 2012
The KDN complex is situated in the southern part of Sri Lanka, which is about 147 kilometers away from Colombo. The total forest spread over 10139.3 hectares. The forest complex occupies the interfluves between two rivers, the GinGanga and the Nilwala Ganga. It consists of a series of ridges and valleys and the elevation ranges from 60-425M above mean sea level. The mean monthly temperature is around 27C with a diurnal range of 4-5C, Maximum temperature has been recoded from mid May while the annual rainfall in Kanneliya is around 3750 mm.
The Kanneliya forest as a whole is among the most important natural forests in the southern province for protection of the head waters of the Gin and Nilwala, which are critically important for socio-economic development in the Galle and Matara districts. This region has been identified as floristically one of the richest areas in South Asia. There is a high proportion of endemism among the identified woody plants, with 159 species belonging to 94 genera and 41 families being endemic to Sri Lanka. Some 220 faunal species with 41 endemics have been recorded from the KDN and adjacent forests. Majority of the 20 endemic birds in Sri Lanka are restricted to the rain forests of the Southwest. Large numbers of medicinal plants are found in the KDN forest complex. Some of these plants are Weniwelgata – Concinium fenestratum, Kudahedaya – Lycopodium Squarrosum, Maha hedaya – Lycopodium phlegmaria, Kothala Himbutu – Salacia reticulate, Rasakinda – Tinopora cordifolia.
Snakes of Kanneliya Forest: A total of 36 species snakes, including 17 endemic forms belonging to six families have been recorded from Kanneliya.
Lizards of Kanneliya Forest: A total of 23 species of lizards including 13 endemic species belonging to four families have been recorded from Kanneliya forest.
Freshwater Fishes of Kanneliya Forest: A total of 38 species of fishes belonging to 14 families have been recorded from Kanneliya forest and among them are 20 endemic species. The Gin Ganga, Udugama Ela, Kanneliya Ela and their shady forest streams provide extremely suitable habitats for their fishes.
Also the Kanneliya forest is an ideal location for bird watching. Numbers of endemic bird species are recoded from Kanneliya forest. Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Red-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Orange Billed Babbler, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie can be seen in the Kanneliya forest.
Some Useful Tips:
* To enter Kanneliya Forest Reserve, tickets should be purchased from the Forest Department office at the entrance.
* Start the trail early, at least by 8am.
* Wear light colored, comfortable clothes.
* Be prepared for external practices such as Leeches and ticks. Leech proof socks, preferably boots and a suitable external parasite repellent would be very useful,
* Be prepared for sudden changes in weather – it rains often (a cap and a rain coat would come in handy).
* Avoid walking alone. Always seek the assistance of a trained nature guide from the Forest Department office.
* Make sure you carry sufficient water, food and a basic first aid kit.