Clamour To Save Lankan Blue Tarantula By Bringing It Under Endangered Species


Scientists are confident that protecting Sri Lanka’s Blue Tarantuld Chilobrachys jonitriantisvansicklei is of foremost importance especially when considering exotic pet trade and from extinction. Researcher and field biologist Amila Prasanna Sumanapala told EarthLanka that though there was no information about Blue Tarantula, “this species are very rare with a reasonable population of three to four at times,” he added.

The young scientist expressed confidence like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) that banned illegal trade especially on the other Tarantula species here. He believes that CITIES committee would include Blue Tarantula into the future listing. The spider which measures up to five inches long and is a predator that hunts insects from underground burrows, was found in a section of Sri Lanka’s southwestern rainforest, surrounded by tea and rubber plantations. Blue tarantula was given the scientific name Chilobrachys jonitriantisvansicklei, honouring Joni Triantis Van Sickle conservationist and founder of IDEA WILD, a project dedicated to protecting biodiversity around the world. Amila noticed the beautiful spider in a small patch of rainforest in the western province in 2012, when conducting a research for the University of Colombo. He wasn’t completely sure if this blue spider was a new species, so he sent his colleague, Ranil Nanayakkara, a conservation biologist specialising in arachnology, to the rainforest to take photographs

Sri Lanka and the U.S. are in the process of proposing more stringent trade regulations for all 15 tarantula species in the genus Poecilotheria, also known as ‘tiger spiders’, five of which are found only in Sri Lanka. In addition to regulating their trade, it is also important to protect the habitats in which these spiders are found. As many of them are endemic to specific rainforests in Sri Lanka, human incursion and deforestation could ultimately lead to their extinction.