AHMEDABAD, India - Poachers have killed three Asiatic lions in the rare animal's only natural habitat in the world, prompting security to be tightened in the sanctuary.
Claws, skulls and bones of the lions were missing when the carcasses were found, Pradeep Khanna, chief wildlife warden at Gir wildlife sanctuary in the western state of Gujarat, told Reuters on Monday.
"It is shocking, and a clear case of poaching," Khanna said.
The number of lions in Gir, where the lions are protected and bred in natural conditions, had risen to 359 in 2005 from 327 four years ago, a government census showed.
Conservationists and wildlife experts say about 10 lions have died in the last year, mainly from drowning and poaching.
India is already struggling to save its endangered tigers, as people invade their habitat and poachers kill them for body parts that fetch huge sums on the international black market.
Story Date: 6/3/2007