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According to ancient Buddhist scriptures, the concept of wildlife sanctuaries may well have its origins in Sri Lanka.
As long ago as 247BC, the King of Sri Lanka at the time, Devanampiya Tissa, created the world’s first wildlife haven in what is today known as the cultural triangle in the country’s north central province when he decreed, “all human beings should follow the hallowed Buddhist precept of not harming any form of life”.
Like all islands, Sri Lanka boasts numerous unique species. The 65,610 square-kilometre (25,322 square-mile) area houses an opulent wildlife gene pool, with its wildly diverse habitats, from cool misty mountains to rain forests, rolling oceans and expansive beaches, and even an arid zone for all the world like the plains of Africa.
More than 14 percent of Sri Lanka’s land area is dedicated to sanctuaries for fauna and flora and showcases some 86 species of mammals with the elephant taking pride of place, Sri Lanka has 4 species of wild cats(The Largest of them is Sri Lankan Leopard known as Panthera pardus kotiya), exotic birds and many varieties of deer, monkey, the sloth bear, wild boar, jackals, mongoose, porcupine, shrews and wild buffalo. The Island is also one of the few places in the world where the largest mammal on land – the elephant - and the largest mammal at sea – the Blue Whale - can both be spotted during the course of a day.
Sri Lanka is in essence more like a continent compressed into an island in terms of its biodiversity.