Cave Biodiversity

A Cave in Sri Lanka Covered with Water

Sri Lankan dark caves support important biodiversity, which has been largely neglected by the conservation community to date. The largest and most famous of Sri Lanka’s caves is the Ravana Ella Dark Cave. It is directly related to the legendary King Ravana who lived in Sri Lanka about 10,000 years ago. Its fauna has been found to include millipedes, cockroaches, several species of spiders, whip scorpions, Swifts, bats and Assassin bugs.

Cave guide training, and cave management programmes are currently not available within Sri Lanka. As a result, adventure tourism in these dark caves is completely unregulated. Recent studies by Lanka Institute for Cave Science (LICAS) indicate that current tourism practices pose major threats to cave conservation; especially for the more famous caves such as Ravana Ella and Sthreepura in Welimada.

People Inspecting Caves

Almost no dark caves in Sri Lanka have been surveyed and none are legally protected for their biodiversity. There is an urgent need to rectify this situation so that key cave biodiversity sites can be identified and protected. Dilmah Conservation partnered with Biodiversity Sri Lanka and the Lanka Institute of Cave Science (LICAS) on the 29th of August 2017 to survey 25 of Sri Lanka’s caves and address this issue.

Learn more about the caves surveyed during this project.

  • Objectives

    • Determine species richness in each explored cave
    • Identify and characterize key sites for conservation in terms of their biological, economic and cultural values
    • Determine threats to these sites by establishing their associated human-cave interactions
    • Key expected outcome of this project will be to train community leaders and students through cave surveys and data analysis
    • Enhance local awareness and management capacity and create a better understanding of cave-dwelling fauna and flora to support conservation.
  • Progress

    Small Spiders in a Cave

    Since the project commenced in 2017, eleven caves have been surveyed, namely, the Alavala Tunnel, the Endiri Lena, the Batadomba Lena, the Maradankadawala Rock Shelter, the Sthreepura tunnel, the Mandapai cave, the Vavulpuram cave, the Pelpola cave, the Kosgala dark cave, the Ravana Ella dark cave and the Roopagallena dark cave for their biodiversity. Photographs were taken, of each species found, for further identification and investigation.