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A black leopard and a dwarf elephant: more amazing Sri Lanka wildlife diversity

A black leopard and a dwarf elephant: more amazing Sri Lanka wildlife diversity

A rare black leopard is causing excitement—and much sorrow—among Sri Lanka wildlife enthusiasts after its death at the hands of poachers in the hills near Kandy.

These beautiful animals, also known as black panthers, are almost never seen since they live their lives deep in the jungles and avoid any contact with man.

And as Ranil Nanayakkara writes in The Island Online: “It is tragic that the best specimen … came to light only as a victim of a cruel poacher’s snare.

“This poor creature’s only crime was to live her life in the jungles of her birth in the way nature had created her. That she suffered such a long and agonizing death has been well & tragically recorded.

“Hanging from a branch with a ever tightening wire noose cutting in to her waist, as has been reported was the tragic end of such a magnificent animal.”

And he asks: “Are we doing enough, for the safety and protection of our rare & beautiful natural resources and faunal treasures?”

The answer must be yes. The government has done, and is doing, much to safeguard Sri Lanka wildlife, and our many reserves and nature parks are magnets for tourists eager to share our amazing diversity.

Ranil writes at length about the origins of black leopards, saying: “A good example [is] ‘Warkarwatte’ also known as ‘Dunumadalawa’ in Kandy. In this area signs of leopards are frequently seen and though several individuals are present and breeding, too, has taken place, very few actual sightings are recorded.”

Read the full report here.

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Meanwhile, we were reminded of another amazing example of our wildlife diversity, the dwarf male elephant (pictured above left) wandering the forests of Sri Lanka, which was the star of a BBC Earth feature film.

Says the website: “Thought to be the first of his kind ever recorded, the elephant surprised the researchers further by engaging in his very own rumble in the jungle.

“In a series of extraordinary encounters in the Uda Walawe National Park, the elephant, nicknamed the Walawe Dwarf by observers, waged an all-out battle against a full-sized male elephant.

“Barely two metres tall, the Walawe Dwarf, according to the researchers, is the first confirmed case of disproportionate dwarfism in a fully-grown Asian elephant (Elephas maximus maximus) in the wild. His condition is most likely caused by a genetic mutation resulting in disproportionately short limbs.”

Read the report here.

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