The Hiyare Reservoir Rainforest and Biodiversity Research Centreis shrouded in secrecy and is not known by many despite being just 16 kilometres from the town of Galle. The reservoirof 55 acres was built in 1911 to provide irrigation and water to Galleusing only gradients and gravity to move the water from the source to the site. This was halted in 2002 when the Municipal Council of Galle concluded that the water was unfit for human consumption due to stagnation and resorted to alternate means of obtaining water.
The 55 acre reservoir and 600 acres of surrounding tropical rainforest was given over to the Municipal Council of Galle the following year (2003). The reservoir area is managed by the Wildlife Society of Galle whilst the rest of Hiyare is managed by the Sri Lankan Forest Department. To reach the reserve head towards Matara along Galle A2. Then take a left onto Udugama Road (B129). After 10km, turn right at the sign which states Hiyare National Forest. Drive along this road for five minutes and turn left onto the gravel road.
Hiyare is valuable resource to wildlife in Sri Lanka as it has a unique Biodiversity Breeding Centre for endangered species which has so far nursed and reintroduced sometimes through painstaking effort back to the wild, many species including birds, snakes and mammals which is commendable. They also have an Animal Rescue Program, which can provide immediate medical and surgical care for injured wildlife and has the resources to handle a fully grown leopard which is Sri Lanka’s largest wild big cat.
In addition to conserving fauna Hiyare also has a tropical tree farm to promote reforestation and it is customary for visitors to plant a sapling before they leave. They conduct classes on the importance of conservation and protecting the biodiversity of Sri Lankafor those who are interested.
Relative to its rather small land area of 2.5 km2, Hiyareis home to a plethora of flora and fauna of which many are endemic species. The following is a breakdown of the numbers of species of a group mentioned in descending order; 118 Bird species of which 13 are endemic, 78 Butterfly species of which 3 are endemic, 55 Dragonfly speciesof which 12 areendemic, 34 Reptile species of which14 areendemic, 33 Freshwater fish species of which 13 areendemic, 29 Mammal species of which13 areendemic, 28 Land snail speciesof which 13 areendemic and 18 amphibian species of which 13 are endemic.
Due to Hiyares small land area, it has one of the highest concentrations of unique species found in relation to the land area of any rainforest in the world. It notably is home to the extremely elusive hog deer seen in the southern regions of the island which is not commonly observed in the wild but can be observed in the conservation programme.Hiyare also occasionally reveals a new species and it is recommended to be visited if you are a true wildlife enthusiast.