09 August 2013

Yala National Park of Sri Lanka..



Date of Issue : 28 July2013

The Philatelic Bureau of Sri Lanka issued six new postage stamps in the denominations of Rs. 5.00, Rs 15.00, Rs. 30.00, Rs. 40.00 and Rs. 50.00 depicting six selected animals living in the Yala National Park to coincide with the completion of seventy five years of the network of Wild Life Reserves in Sri Lanka, as the fourth issue in the series of stamps on Sri Lanka’s National Parks.

As for the objectives of the Wild Life Reserves Network of Sri Lanka which has evolved for a period of seventy five years now since February, 1938, in addition to the long term protection of Wild Life resources, it contributes to a large extent to the national economy of the country as well.



1.Hawks-bill Turtle ( Eretmochelys imbricate)

Growing to about 3 feet in length, this member is one of eight species of sea turtles recognized in the world, and one of the five that inhabit the coastal waters of Sri Lanka. All turtles are considered globally threatened and live by feeding on sea weeds, grasses, jellyfish, corals etc. They come ashore to lay eggs in a nest dug in the sand with their flippers. A total of 20-40 or more nicely round white eggs are laid in the dugout cavity at night when they beach for nesting. The eggs are covered with sand using  the flippers and pressed with body thumping. The nestlings hatch out in approximately 23-26 days and head out straight to sea. The yolk sac in the belly is supposed to provide the initial energy for the hatchlings to swim as far as possible to the reef areas. They do not come back to land until mature and ready to breed, the age of which has  not yet been established. The nesting beach is believed to be the same area from where  it left as a hatchling. The use of its carapace scales for ornamental accessories by humans  is the biggest threat to its survival.

2.Swamp Crocodile( Crocodylus palustris )

Crocodiles are members of the reptilian group, and are considered to be in the direct line of evolution to birds. They possess a heart with a left aortic blood vessel like the birds and different from the other reptiles. Sri Lanka is blessed with two species – the marsh or swamp crocodile and the larger and more aggressive estuarine crocodile – Crocodylus porosus inhabiting  generally the salt waters.  The swamp crocodile grows to about 10 - 12 feet, with webbed fingers, dorsal nares and a nasal track separated from the mouth by a palate. They are efficient swimmers paddling with the dorso-ventrally flattened tail.  Crocodiles build nests in dug-up cavities in the embankments of rivers etc. in which they lay eggs that are hatched by the addition of decaying vegetation. Crocodiles are very protective of their young and are most aggressive during the period when the young hatchlings are around.  They are carnivorous and feed of dead carcasses or captured animals.


3.Elephant( Elephas maximus )

The largest animal on the Asian continent, the elephant is related to the African elephant in being in the same Family Proboscidea. The main feature of recognition is the presence of the prehensile nose or proboscis. An average animal can grow up to about 7-9 feet at the shoulder. They are herbivorous and need around 1/3rd their body weight in foliage per day. The Sri Lankan elephant feeds 70% on grasses and balance on vegetation plants of around 10cm in diameter at breast height.  Thus it has been recognized as an “edge species”  loitering and feeding in high densities in forest with heavy scrub, open grasslands and water. The cause for damage to property, crops and consequently even to human life is believed mainly due to this preference of food and  a unique feature in its feeding biology. The grinding capacity of the molar teeth that replaces over the years fails to be effective and efficient  in old age and a preference for softer lush “agricultural” food draws them to human habitation. The continued encroachments of their territory by humans have compounded the conflict further. The elephant tamed by us has become  part of our culture and religious practices. Among the Asian elephant  it is only the male that bears the magnificent tusks, a sad cause for its state of threatened status.


4.Black-necked Stork( Ephippiorhynchus asiatucus )

The tallest bird of Sri Lanka with a height  over  5 ft. It inhabits coastal wetlands such as marshes, lagoons,  estuaries and large water bodies. A bird that had a distribution in the North West and East of Sri Lanka is presently,  sighted often in the wetlands of the Yala National Park Complex. There has been numerous sightings of birds caring sticks for nesting and  juvenile birds, yet no documented nest has yet been seen in the country  in the last 50 years or more. It is known to nest in tall trees away from the coastline in forests.


5.The Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)

An interesting member of the hoofed family - Artiodactyla, they live in small sires, numbering around 4- 5 animals. Moving through the soft earth, like a plough they dig up for yams and grub worms etc. The area left behind after a successful feeding bout is a completely upturned soil. They like to wallow in mud. The babies are lined with black horizontal marks and number up to even 10 in a pack. The male has a fairly large pair of tushes and the females too sometimes have smaller pairs. The adult animals are very protective of their babies and will not hesitate to take  on even a leopard if it happens to stalk the babies.  

6.The Spotted Deer (Axis axis)

The most common mammal is in the dry and semi arid forest in the country.  Generally they are observed in herds of half a dozen to a hundred or more, of both sexes and all ages .   

Spotted deer spends much of its time grazing upon various grasses and herbs in open areas in the forests. They browse on the leaves of bushes, saplings and scrub vegetation also. They are also very fond of the fruits and flowers that fall from the forest trees.

The main predators of this beautiful animal are leopard and crocodile. Their vision and hearing are exceedingly acute and their sense of smell is very well developed. These adaptations help them to escape from predators.

: Sri Lanka Post

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