A boat ride in Muthurajawela Marsh to see plenty of birds!

Sri Lanka’s biggest saline wetland is found in the southern end of the Negombo lagoon. The Muthurajawela marsh, forms an integrated coasta l wetland system of high biodiversity and ecological significance. It is among the 12 priority wetlands in Sri Lanka, 1,777 hectares of the northern section of the marsh was declared a Wetland Sanctuary in 1996. blue heron at Muthurajawela

There are some documented 192 species of flora, distributed over seven major
vegetation communities at Muthurajawela; marsh, lentic flora, reed swamp, short grassland, scrubland, stream bank flora and mangrove swamp. The vertebrate fauna documented included 40 species of fish, 14 species of amphibians, among them Greater Hourglass Tree Frog and Atukorale’s Dwarf Toad, narrow-mouthed frogs, aquatic frogs.  31 species of reptiles, 102 species of birds and 34 species of mammals. Among the total vertebrate species documented, 17 are endemic, 26 are considered as nationally threatened, while 36 are new records to Muthurajawela. The selected invertebrate species documented consisted of 48 species of butterflies and 22 species odonates. ***


The mammals of Muthurajawela consist of 34 species belonging to 14 families, which represent nearly 25% of the island’s mammalian fauna. Among them are four nationally threatened species and one endemic species. There are live monkeys and some species of mammals like squirrels, painted bat, slender loris, otter, fishing cat, rusty spotted cat and mouse deer. Two other species
the Toque Macaque and the fruit bat Rosettes seminude are endemic to the island.


A 1990-91 survey indicated that Muthurajawela is home to 85 resident bird species. like the Purple Heron, Cormorants, White Breasted Waterhen, Bee – Eater and the Pied Kingfisher  of which four – the reef heron, greyheaded
fishing eagle, blue-breasted banded quail and the black-capped kingfisher are threatened. Of the uncertain number of of migratory bird species** recorded at the marsh, the Common tern and Indian cormorant are listed as threatened.


The marsh is home to some 37 species belonging to 18 families. 14 are threatened including all five endemics – two species of skinks and three snakes. The water monitor lizard is protected under the Wildlife Ordinance of 1979, as is the estuarine crocodile. Monitor lizards and Sri Lanka’s largest snake – the Python, is also found here. There are six endemic species while nine are nationally threatened.


Consisting of 40 species belonging to 23 families representing 45% of Sri Lanka’s native inland fishes, the marsh houses an array of fish species. Five of them are endemic while five are nationally endangered. These fish species include freshwater and marine migratory species like Level, Red Snapper and Big-eye- trevally and Finned eel.

Muthurajawela visitor center

Muthurajawela visitor center educates both curious vistors,  students and schollars alike about the importance of the marsh as a fragile eco-system and it’s contribution to the local economy. Small group boat rides to the wetlands are organised in collaboration with the visitor center. We reccommend that you include this activity in to your To-Do list whilst in Negombo or Colombo if you are an environmentally sensitive person.

Today Muthurajawela ecosystem fights for it’s own exsistence due to intense
urban and industrial development, as a result of not having a proper plan for the future of the marsh.


**  Numbers uncertain / *** credit/source : INTERNATIONAL FORESTRY AND ENVIRONMENT SYMPOSIUM

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