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The Mammals of Sri Lanka

Flora / Fauna

By: Asoka Yapa (Author), Gamini Ratnavira (Illustrator), Rohan Pethiyagoda (Foreword By), Asoka Weerasinghe (Contributor), Rajith Dissanayake (Contributor)

1012 pages, colour & b/w photos, colour & b/w illustrations, colour distribution maps, colour maps, colour tables

Field Ornithology Group Sri Lanka

Hardback | Dec 2013 | #212419 | ISBN-13: 9789558576328
Availability: In stock
NHBS Price: £85.99 $105/€97 approx

About this book

Language: English

The Mammals of Sri Lanka is the first comprehensive treatment of the subject in eighty years. Although the book is intended for the wildlife enthusiast and observer, it will be of value to students and professional zoologists. The Mammals of Sri Lanka summarizes information currently available on both terrestrial and marine mammals that occur in and around Sri Lanka. Richly illustrated, it carries a coloured portrait of almost every species. For the first time, there are distribution maps for all the terrestrial mammals, drawings of dive sequences for the large whales, and representations of footprints and faeces of selected species. A comprehensive Bibliography containing over 500 references will assist those wanting to find out more about Sri Lanka's rich mammal fauna. All revenues from The Mammals of Sri Lanka will go towards furthering zoological field research in Sri Lanka.


"The last comprehensive book on the mammals of Sri Lanka was compiled 8 decades ago when the island nation off the coast of India was known as the British colony of Ceylon (Phillips 1935). A sumptuously illustrated opus that updates and exceeds this earlier monograph was published last year with text exquisitely written by Asoka Yapa and color plates artistically painted by Gamini Ratnavira. [...] It is refreshing to know that Yapa also does not shy away from controversy. [...] The authors should be congratulated on amassing the most comprehensive volume on Sri Lankan mammals. There is a wealth of information presented in an engaging and thought-provoking style. The intended audience is the “interested layperson,” so some professional biologists will certainly have alternative suggestions for information relating to their mammals of study. [...] Notwithstanding some line spacing issues, editorial rigor and quality of publication is first rate. [...] One of the more interesting and useful aspects of this book that I found was the highlighting of gaps in our scientific knowledge of mammals from Sri Lanka. Although written for amateur naturalists with an interest in wildlife, I think professional mammalogists will find this book a necessary addition to their library. It may well take another 8 decades before another significant edition is forthcoming on this unusual fauna that is begging to be studied."

– Burton K. Lim, Journal of Mammalogy, 96(2), 460-462, April 2015


"A little known fact is that Sri Lanka is home to 125 Mammalian species. Much has been written about elephants, leopards and even on primates individually, but after W.W.A. Philips’ review of Sri Lanka’s mammals in the 1930s, there was no comprehensive review undertaken. Filling this void, is the new book The Mammals of Sri Lanka.

With all of 1012 pages, the book authored by Asoka Yapa, with illustrations by the world renowned Sri Lankan wildlife artist Gamini Ratnavira, is a mammoth effort. The book also contains many photos of mammals taken in the field by veteran photographers such as Vimukthi Weeratunga, Nadika Hapuaarachchi, and Dr. Janaka Gallangoda. Experts in the field too have contributed photographs of lesser known mammals and the book also contains a few ‘first time’ photos of some of the rarest mammals.

Yapa and Ratnavira’s book has several unique features. For the first time it carries colour illustrations of almost all of Sri Lanka’s mammal species. Indeed, there are illustrations even of new species that are proposed as endemic additions to the island’s fauna. A possible new loris, a new chevrotain, and a new beaked whale are among the animals pictured. Also for the first time there are distribution maps for the land mammals. Illustrations of scat and spoor are provided for selected species; after all, those are often the only signs left by a wild animal. Dive sequences are given for the larger whales to aid identification.

Each taxonomic order of mammals in Sri Lanka is introduced in their evolutionary, taxonomic, and ecological contexts. Family descriptions follow, after which are species by species accounts that cover morphology, behaviour, ecology, diet, reproduction, distribution within Sri Lanka, and conservation status and concerns. Where there are significant differences among subspecies within the island, these are described and illustrated.

The book is in full colour and is printed and bound in Sri Lanka with sustainably produced papers and vegetable inks."

– Malaka Rodrigo, Sunday Times (Sri Lanka), 08-12-2013


Foreword by Rohan Pethiyagoda   11
Encomiums   17
Sri Lanka's Mammals: An Introduction   23
Mammals in Sri Lanka: Primary Sources   35
Sri Lanka: Geology and Biogeography   43
Author's Note and Acknowledgements   51

Sri Lanka's Terrestrial and Marine Mammals   63
   Order Sirenia: Dugongs and Manatees   65
   Order Proboscidea: Elephants   79
   Order Primates: Lorises, Monkeys, Lemurs, and Relatives   121
   Order Rodentia: Rats, Squirrels, Mice, Porcupines, and Relatives   189
   Order Lagomorpha: Hares and Pikas   293
   Order Eulipotyphla: Shrews, Hedgehogs, and Moles   303
   Order Chiroptera: Bats   337
   Order Carnivora: Cats, Civets, Mongooses, Dogs, Bears, Weasels, and Pinnipeds   459
   Order Pholidota: Pangolins  585
   Super-Order Cetartiodactyla: Even-Toed Ungulates and Whales   599
   Order Artiodactyla: Deer, Chevrotains, Antelopes, Pigs, Giraffes, True Ruminants, and Hippopotamuses   605
   Order Cetacea: Whales and Dolphins   685

Introduced Mammals   857
Bibliography   876

Appendix I: Glossary   916
Appendix II: The Cetacean-Watching Industry   930
Appendix III: Dive Sequences of the Larger Whales   936
Appendix IV: Spoor and Scat of Selected Genera of Sri Lankan Mammals   944
Appendix V: Dental Formulae of Selected Genera of Sri Lankan Mammals   954

Addenda   960
Index of Common Names   972
Index of Scientfic Names   976
Sri Lanka's Mammals Names: Scientific, English, and Sinhala Equivalents   980
Sri Lanka's Mammals Names: Scientific, English, and Tamil Equivalents   988
Checklist of Sri Lankan Mammals   996

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