In the Southern region of Sri Lanka lies the Galle district. Balpitiya is a little town in the district and would be quite unimportant; except for the location of a river. The Madu River is very rich in biodivesity. It passes through the wet zone of Sri Lanka opening up into the large Madu Lagoon on its way to the Indian Ocean.
The Madu River area surrounding the river are all swampy marshlands covered in mangrove forests.
The forest covers over 61 hectares, that is over 150 acres. 14 of the 24 species of mangroves are found in this area.
It is interesting to note that mangroves play a huge part in preventing erosion.
The value of the mangroves was understood in December 2004, during the devastating tsunami, when forest acted as a natural barrier protecting the region.
The large growths of mangrove trees have caused a chain of ecological gain. The soil protected by the mangrove trees is very fertile. This has caused a rich growth of other wetland plants.
Over 300 species, 19 of which are endemic, have been discovered so far.
The region continues to be a treasure trove to biologists and ecologists with many undiscovered species in the unreachable depths of the mangrove forests.
The plantlife in turn have supported a large number of wildlife that depends on them.
The largest animal in the region is the wild boar. There are other smaller animals such as monkeys, a variety of squirrels, etc.
When it comes to birds, cormorants and kingfishers are a common sight. For avid bird watchers, the mangrove forests are a dream coming true. There are over 111 bird species identified to inhabit the region.
There are 31 types of reptiles, namely snakes, lizards and crocodiles.
There are also over 50 kinds of butterflies and 25 kinds of molluscs found in the Madu River zone.