The beautiful scenery and salubrious mountain air at the Knuckles makes it a popular destination for walking safaris and nature treks. There is a treasure trove of endemic species to witnessed here, and the Knuckles also offers a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with nature’s smaller miracles.
History and Description of the Knuckles Mountain Range
The Knuckles covers parts of the Kandy and Matale districts in Sri Lanka. It is separated from the Central Hills by the Mahaveli Valley to the South and East and the Matale Valley to the West. The Knuckles was so named by British surveyors because when seen from certain angles it represents a clenched fist, but it is known in the local tongue as Dumbara Kanduvetiya, meaning ‘mist-laden mountain range’.
A unique feature here is that the Knuckles seems to have its own climatic microcosm and is home to a higher percentage of the islands biodiversity despite its small size. The vegetation found at Knuckles is divided into five types. These are semi evergreen, sub montane, montane and riverine forests and the pathana and savanna grasslands.
Flora and Fauna at the Knuckles Mountain Range
31 species of mammals have been recorded in the Knuckles, four of which are endemic. Wild Buffalo, Wildboar, Black-naped Hare, Jackal, the endemic Toque Macaque & Purple-faced Leaf Monkey are commonplace. Fishing cats and mouse deer have also been seen.
20 species of amphibians have been recorded in the Knuckles wilderness of which 12 are both endemic and endangered. A highlight is Kirthisinghe’s Rock Frog which is found nowhere else in the world. 53 species of reptiles have been indentified here of which 23 are endemic. Most commonly spotted of a nature trek are Small geckos, pythons and monitor lizards. Among the endemic lizard species found at Knuckles range are Crestless Lizard (Calotes Leocephalus), Pigmy Lizard (Cophotis ceylonica) and Kangaroo Lizard (Otocryptus Wiegmanni) and are leaf nose lizard (Ceretophora Tennennti) is only found in this forest. There are 25 species of freshwater fish as well.
Over 130 species of birds inhabit the Knuckles Mountain Range and 20 of these are endangered. The endemics are represented by the Sri Lankan white eye, Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Layard’s Parakeet, Sri Lanka Spur Fowl, Sri Lanka Spot Wing Thrush, Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon and the rare Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush. Migrants include Asian Paradise Flycatchers, Kashmir Flycatcher (which is endangered) Indian Pitta, Common Sandpiper, Gray and Forest Wagtails, Greenish Warbler and the Indian Blue Chat.