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B/N 879 - National Parks of Sri Lanka –Kumana

The Philatelic Bureau of the Department of Posts issued seven new postage stamps in the denominations of Rs.7.00, Rs.10.00, Rs.15.00, Rs.20.00, Rs.25.00, Rs.35.00 and Rs.40.00 depicting seven animals in Kumana National Park and a souvenir sheet and a sheet let on 26.01.2016 as the sixth issue in the series of stamps on “National Parks of Sri Lanka.”

Date of Issue:

26th January 2016


Rs.7.00, Rs.10.00, Rs.15.00, Rs.20.00, Rs.25.00, Rs.35.00, Rs.40.00

Catalogue No. Rs.7.00 - CSL 2137 Rs.10.00- CSL 2138 Rs.15.00- CSL 2139 Rs.20.00- CSL 2140 Rs.25.00- CSL 2141 Rs.35.00- CSL 2142 Rs.40.00- CSL 2143
Stamp Designer: Mr. Kalum A. Gunasekara
Sheet Composition: 20 stamps per sheet

National Parks of Sri Lanka - Kumana

The distinct feature that a particular living being possesses is inequality from others. Those features would be recognized as prominent in terms of human perceptions and conservation point of view. Unique anatomical feature, unequal behavior, specific distributions and or inimitable adaptations would bring them for special attention. That advertence facilitates to proceed for long term conservation of the species.

The Department of Wildlife Conservation Sri Lanka has recognized such uniqueness for seven animal species found in the country i.e. Asian Elephant, Sloth Bear, Leopard, Black-necked stork, Saltwater Crocodile, Leatherback turtle and Blue whales. Those have been established for special recognition as flagship species for conservation and have assented as Top Seven Wild Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka hosting Top Seven Wild provides remarkable opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts to observe them within a short distance and a time. Getting such experiences the society will leads for conservation and help to protect them forever.

Kumana National Park is one of the two National Parks that all the Top Seven Wild can be seen. It is located 391 kilometres (243 mi) southeast of Colombo.Kumana is contiguous withYala National Park and was formally known as Yala East National Park, but changed to its present name in 5 September 2006 spreads over an area of 35,664 hectares. In the west, the park is bordered by River Kumubukkan Oya; to the south is south-eastern coast that runs to Panama. A 200 hectares mangrove swamp called "KumanaVillu" within the Park is subject to occasional inundation with sea water. It is at this swamp that many water birds nest, during the months of April to July.

The park's wetland areas are surrounded by dry zone tropical thorn forest. The inland forest's flora is dominated by Manilkarahexandra (Palu), Hemicycleasepieria, Bauhinia racemosa, Cassia fiatula (Ehela, Chloroxylonswietenia (Burutha) ect. The dominant tree of the Kumanavillu is Sonneratiacaseolaris,

During April–July, tens of thousands of birds migrate to the Kumana swamp area annually nearly 255 species of birds have been recorded in the National Park. Regular sightings of birds include pelicans, painted storks, spoonbills, white ibis, herons, egrets and hundreds of little cormorants. The very rare black-necked stork has also been spotted at the swamp.

Among four subspecies of blue whales Balaenopteramusculusindica, of the family Balaenopteridae, present in Sri Lankan waters.It is a marine mammal and is the largest existing animal which can be reached up to 30 meters in length and 170 tonesor more in weight.They commonly live alone or in pairs. They do not form a large, close-knit group but a concentration has been recordedin the areas where foods are plenty.

Blue whales are fast moving animalswho can swim by 50kmph speed over short bursts but 20kmph is a typical traveling speed. They feed exclusively onkrill and zooplankton. An adult blue whale can eat up to 40 million krill in a day. Usuallythey feed at depths of more than 100 meters during the day time and only surface-feed at night. Dive time is usually 10 minutes when feeding but the dives of up to 20 minutes are common.

Blue whales become sexually maturedat five to ten years of age.Female gives birth once in every two to three yearsafter a 10 to 12 months gestation period.

The calf weighs about 2.5 tonesatbirthand is around 7 meters in length. During the first seven months of its life, a blue whale calf drinks approximately 400 lof milk a day and they usually gain in weight about 90kg per day.

Due to their enormous size, power and speed, adult blue whales have no natural predators. Butblue whales may be wounded, sometimes fatally, after colliding with ocean vessels, as well as becoming trapped or entangled in fishing gear. The change in ocean temperature would also affect the blue whale migration thus the warming trend and decreased salinity levels of ocean would cause a significant shift in location and abundancekrill which is their main food

Blue whalescan make calls at a frequency between 10 and 40 Hz. Blue whales off the coast of Sri Lanka is make "songs" like calls which have not been seen in any other population in the world. This may be unique to the subspecies found in Indian Ocean.

In Sri Lanka whales have been seen in many areas close to shore, most notably at the southern, eastern and north western coast. Whale watching is becoming a popular tourism activity in this region. The blue whale has been listed as "endangered" by World Conservation Union (IUCN) and also they have been considered as strictly protected mammals under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of Sri Lanka.

Rs. 10.00Leatherback sea turtle(Dermochelyscoriacea)

The leatherback turtle (Dermochelyscoriacea) which is the largest living turtle belongs to the family Dermochelyidae. The most notable feature is that thecarapace of leatherbacks is not a hard shell but a skin and oilyflesh.The adults can grow up to1.83–2.2 m in length, and 250 to 500 kg in weight. They exhibit distinct anatomical characters associated with a cold water life i.e. extensive covering of brown adipose tissue, swimming musclesof temperature – independent and an extensive network of counter-current heat exchangers surrounding the trachea to maintain their body temperatures.

The leatherback turtle feeds on jellyfish which is mostly distributed in colder waters. Soft-bodied organisms like tunicates and cephalopods are also their prey. Leatherbacks are one of the deepest-diving marine animals being recorded to depths as great as 1,280 m. Diving duration would be up to 30–70 minutes. They are also fast moving reptiles. Usually they swim at 1–6 kmph, but they can reach 35 kmph.Leatherbacks swim through open oceans for long distances following their prey and to find their nesting sites. It has been recorded that the turtle has made their foraging journey over 20,000 km in a period of 647 days.

Leatherback turtles breed annually. Females who makes nest at above the high-tide line of the sea shore lay clutches, an average clutch size being around 110 eggs. The eggs hatch in about 60 to 70 days. The hatchlings dig to the surface of the nest and walk into the sea. The ambient temperature of the nest determines the sex of the hatchlings. They are distributed in all tropical and subtropical seas.

Genetically distinct subpopulations of leatherbacks have been recognized from different regions of the world. The nesting populations in Sri Lanka and the Nicobar Islandsare probably a genetically distinct Indian-Ocean subpopulation.

A dramatic decline of the leatherbacks population has occurred from about 115,000 estimated in year 1980. The major cause for the decline isthe egg predation by humans and others coastal predators.Despite their lack of a hard shell, the adult leatherbacks too may be subject to predation. They are also badly affected by plastic bags mistakenly takenas jellyfish. Even small quantities of plastic debris can kill sea turtles by obstructing their digestive tracts.

The leatherback turtle has beenconsidered as critically endangered by World Conservation Union (IUCN). Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of Sri Lanka lists leatherback turtle as strictly protected reptiles. Turtles provide an excellent opportunity for the tourism industry and part of the internationally collectiveconservation effort.

Rs. 15.00Black-necked stork (Ephippiorhynchusasiaticus)

The Black-necked stork (Ephippiorhynchusasiaticus) is a waderwhich belongs to the family Ciconiidae. As a large bird,it can grow up to 130–150 cm in height having a 230cm wingspan. The average weight is around 4kg. Adults have a glossy bluish-black iridescent head, neck, flight feathers and tail. Other distinct colouration that they exhibit is bright white back and belly,black bill and bright red legs. The sexes are identical but the adult female has a yellow iris while the adult males has it brown.

The Black-necked storks are very silent and nonsocial animals. They are seen as single birds, pairs or as a family group. They forage in a variety of natural and artificial wetland habitats; frequently using freshwater, natural wetlands.

The black-necked stork is a carnivore and its diet includes water-birds and a range of aquatic vertebrates and invertebrates such as crabs and mollusks.

They prey on the eggs and hatchlings of turtles too. Most prey is caught by the bird jabbing and seizing it using its large bill.

Nest building commences during the peak of the monsoon. They nest in large and isolated trees. Nests are made up of sticks, branches and lined with rushes, water-plants and sometimes with a mud plaster on the edges. Nests may extend up to 1-2min diameter. The usual clutch size is four eggs.Eggs are dull white in colour and broad oval in shape. The incubation period is about 30 days. The chicks are white in colour and the scapular feathers emerge first. Adults rear the young in the early stages but stop feeding at the nest when they reach about 4 months old.

The Black-necked stork is widely spread in India and Australia. Small family groups have been recorded in Sri Lanka and they are considered as rare residents. TheBlack-necked stork is recognizes as a Near Threatened species by World Conservation Union.

Rs.20.00Saltwater Crocodile(Crocodylusporosus)

The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylusporosus) is the largest living carnivore a reptile belongs to the family Crocodylidae.

The distinct feature of the species is immense body size. The male can reach sizes of up to 6.7 m and weigh up to 2,000 kg. An average, the adult male is normally 4.3–5.2 m long and weight is 400–1,000 kg. Females are usually smaller and often not exceed 3 m in length. Young saltwater crocodiles are pale yellow in colour with black stripes and spots and adult is much darker in colour.The ventral surface is white or yellow.

The saltwater crocodile is a formidable and opportunistic carnivore. They take almost any animal that enters their territory i.e. fish, crustaceans, reptiles, birds and mammals. The crocodiles are able to survive on relatively little food for a prolonged period. Because of their size, saltwater crocodiles hunt the broadest range of prey species. The larger the animal grows, the greater the variety of its diet. Mammalian prey is of juveniles and subadults of ungulates and also preys on a variety of saltwater bony fish and other marine mammals.

Usually theyreside in mangrove swamps, estuaries, deltas, lagoons, and lower stretches of rivers. Theabilityof the saltwater crocodile to travel very long distances results in their occurrences in areas far away from their original range.

Saltwater crocodiles generally spend the tropical wet season in freshwater swamps and rivers, moving downstream to estuaries in the dry season, and sometimes travelling far out to sea. Crocodiles compete fiercely with each other for territory, with dominant males in particular occupying the most eligible stretches of freshwater creeks and streams. While most crocodilians are social animals sharing basking spots and food, saltwater crocodiles are more territorial and are less tolerant of their own kind; adult males share territory with females, but drive off rival males.

This species has the greatest sexual dimorphism i.e. with the females being much smaller than males. The female typically lays 40 to 60 eggs. Female guards the nest for 80 to 98 days for hatchlings. The sex of the hatchlings is determined by the nest temperature. The saltwater crocodile was historically known to be widespread throughout Southeast Asia, but is now extinct throughout much of this range. They were once present throughout Sri Lanka, but remain mostly within protected areas extending up to coastal habitats.They are threatened by accidental death by caught in fishing nets. Egg predation by human and animals is another threat causing decline in the population. Habitat destruction and water pollution may also a threat to the animal.

Because of its resurgence, the species is considered of minimal concern for extinction. However they are listed as strictly protected reptile under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of Sri Lanka. The saltwater crocodile builds potential to enhance the opportunities of research and tourism to the country.

Rs.25.00Asian Elephant(Elephas maximus maximus)

Among three in Asia a sub species Elephas maximus maximus belongs to the family Elephantidae presents in Sri Lanka.

The most prominent features of the elephant are the size of the body and the trunk. The male can grow up to 2.7 m and that of the females 2.4 m. Average weight 3.00 tons. Large bulls can growup to 6.0 tons in weight.Few males among Sri Lankan elephantweartusks.Skin color of the elephantis usually gray andit can tolerate cold better than excessive heat. They are highly intelligent and self-aware.Tamed elephants have the ability to work under instructions.

Asian elephants inhabit grasslands, tropical and semi evergreen forests, moist and dry deciduous forests and dry thorn forests, in addition to cultivated and secondary forests and scrublands. In Sri Lanka the elephants mostly prefer scrub and grasslands while performing seasonal changes of usingdifferent habitats.

Elephants are classified as mega herbivores and consume up to 170 – 220 kg of plant matter per day. They are generalist feeders, and both grazer and browser. It is recorded to feed on more than 130 different plant species. Elephant drinks 70 – 150 l. of water in a day and are usually never far from a permanent source of fresh water. Scraping the soil is a usual habit to obtain minerals.

Asian elephants perform strong social knit while behaving as a unit of family.Adult females and calves move about together as groups, but adult males disperse from their mothers upon reaching adolescence. Bull elephants may be solitary or form temporary 'bachelor groups. They use infrasound for communication. Bulls reach sexual maturity around the age of 12–15.Between the age of 10 and 20 years, bulls undergo a phenomenon known as musth. The period they become extremely aggressive and may ready for mate. Secretions containing pheromones during this period sense females. The gestation period is 18–22 months, and the female usually gives birth to one calf.

Asian elephants are distributed in 13 countries including Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan population is distributed in lowland dry zone and few are present in wet zone. The pre-eminent threats to Asian elephants today are loss, degradation and fragmentation of the habitat.

E. maximus has been recognized as endangered.They also protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of Sri Lanka. Generallyin most places they recognized as a flagship speciesto deploy a range of conservation goals of protected landscape. Historically, elephantshave been used in war. In modern time in ceremonies, and for carriage.Elephants are most attractive for wildlife tourism.

Rs. 35.00Leopard(Pantheraparduskotiya)

Among nine sub species Pantheraparduskotiya belongs to the family Felidaeis present in Sri Lanka.

The adaptability to tolerate different habitatsfrom rainforest to desert terrain and the opportunistic hunting behaviorof the leopard greatly contribute to them successful survival of them in diverse landscapes.Its ability to run at speeds of60kmph and its unique climbing habits even when carrying a heavy carcass and ability for stealth are positive features for survival. They are powerful swimmers too.

Leopards are agile and stealthy predators and they are able to take large prey using their massive skulls and powerful jaws. They are versatile, opportunistic hunters, and have a very broad food preference. Their diet consists mostly of ungulate and other small primates. At least 92 prey species have been recorded as their

Leopards are elusive, solitary and largely nocturnal. They are territorial and the extent of the territory depends on the availability of food, cover and sexual partners. Males do have larger territory. There seems to be little or no overlap in territory among males but overlap exists between other sexes. Females give birth in a cave, crevice among boulders, hollow tree, or thicket to make a den. Gestation period is for 90 to 105 days.

Cubsareborn with closed eyes, which open within four to nine days after birth. Around three months of age, the young begin to follow the mother on hunts. At one year of age, leopard young can probably fend prey for themselves, but remain with the mother for 18–24 months.

Leopards have the largest distribution occurring from Africa to Asia.Though they are highly adaptable to the environment the population is declining due to habitat losses and fragmentation. The leopard has been listed as near threatened species by World Conservation Union (IUCN). They are also strictly protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of Sri Lanka.

The protected landscape in all climatic regions in Sri Lanka provides suitable habitat for leopard. Among Yala, Wilpattu and Horton Plains National parks are popular for leopards and are high potential for tourism.

Rs. 40.00Sloth Bear (Melursusursinus)

The sloth bear (Melursusursinus) is a termite eating (Myrmecophagous) mammalof family Ursidae, found in the Indian subcontinent. The population isolated in Sri Lanka is a subspecies M. u. inornatus about 2/3 of the size of bears on the Indian Main land.

The distinctly shaped sloth bear with it's black shaggy coat. Sloth bears are distinguished from Asian Black Bear by their lankier builds, longer, shaggier coats, pale muzzles and white claws. Adult male sloth bears are weighing up to 130 kg on average and female is around 110 kg. They are 60–90 cm high at shoulder. Females are smaller than males.

In Sri Lanka the lowland sparse forests such as those in protected areas are used by Sloth Bears particularly if they contain thickets of scrub that provide cover and shade. High monsoon forest is characterized by old, large tree and relatively moist condition and is presumable more productive in fruit and provide more den cavities for them.

As the termite-eating mammals sloth bearhas a specially adapted lower lip and palate for gathering their food source. Termites are sucked up through the muzzle. The sensitive and flexible nose helps to fashion its lips into a tube like form, so the lips function rather like a vacuum-cleaner nozzle facilitate sucking termites. Sloth bears may supplement their diet with fruits, honey bees and plant matter.

Adult sloth bears may travel in pairs, with the males being gentle with cubs. They are capable of galloping faster than running humans. Sloth bears are excellent climbers, including cubs. To mark their territories, sloth bears will scrape trees with their forepaws, and rub against them with their flanks. They have a great vocal range.

The breeding season of Sri Lankan sloth bear is occurs all year. Sows gestate for 210 days, and typically give birth in caves or in shelters under boulders. Litters usually consist of one or two cubs, or rarely three. Cubs are born blind, and open their eyes after four weeks. They will start walking a month after birth, become independent at 24–36 months, and become sexually mature at the age of three years. Intervals between litters can last two to three years.

The Sloth Bear found in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The range in Sri Lanka remains preliminary in dry zone lowlands with monsoon forest where human activities are relatively low. Loss of forest cover and fragmentation by creating agricultural lands and human settlement is major threat to the Sloth Bear.

The slothbear is listed as vulnerable by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and strictly protected under the Fauna and Flora protection Ordinance of Sri Lanka. The Sloth bear attracts tourist to the wild with rear sighting.

Department of Wildlife Conservation

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