SRI LANKAN ELEPHANT population larger then expected
Elephas maximus maximus
©Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The first national survey of Sri Lanka’s wild elephants found more than had been estimated — a sign the endangered species has a healthy, growing population on the Indian Ocean island.

The count conducted last month in forests and wildlife parks found 5,879 wild elephants, of which 122 are tuskers and 1,107 calves, Wildlife Minister S.M. Chandrasena said Friday.

Previous counts did not cover the entire island, but the end of a quarter-century civil war in 2009 opened former war zones to wildlife workers.

The information gathered from the survey will be used to devise plans to protect the endangered species, Wildlife Department Director General H.D. Ratnayake said.


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Anarhichas lupus
©Espen Rekdal

The Atlantic wolffish’s distinguishing feature, from which it gets its common name, is its extensive teeth structure. Its dentition (teeth) distinguishes the Atlanitic wolffish from all the other members of the Anarhichadidae family. Both the lower and upper jaw are armed with four to six fang-like, strong conical teeth. Behind the conical teeth in the upper jaw, there are three rows of crushing teeth. The central row has four pairs of molars and the outer rows house blunted conical teeth. The lower jaw has two rows of molars behind the primary conical teeth. The wolffish’s throat is also scattered with serrated teeth.

The Atlantic wolffish are primarily stationary fish, rarely moving from their rocky home. They are benthic dwellers, living on the hard ocean floor, frequently seen in nooks and small caves. They like cold water, at depths of 76 to 120 meters (250 to 400 ft). They are usually found in waters of 34-37°F (1-2°C) and sometimes as low as 30°F (-1°C). Since they live in nearly freezing waters, in order to keep their blood moving smoothly, their blood contains a natural antifreeze.


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