following the death of five lions in the Gujarat's Gir Sanctuary within a span of three months, the state forest department plans to shift some of the lions to the neighbouring Barda hill forest range. According to officials, three of the five lions died due to natural causes. With an increase in the population of the Asiatic lion from 306 in 1996 to more than 330 in May 2000, the Gir sanctuary is facing a 'carrying capacity problem'.
"The Barda forest in the coastal area of Porbandar is the ideal second home for the lions as its ecosystem and environment is identical to Gir," says P Basu, additional chief secretary for forests and environment.
In a similar experiment in the 1950s, lions were shifted to the Chandraprabha Park in Uttar Pradesh. But it had proved unsuccessful and the lions had died. A proposal by the Union government to shift the lions to the Kuno Palpur Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh has not been approved by the state government.
Asiatic lions have become a tourist attraction in Gujarat and are considered to be part of the state's heritage. Hence, the government is trying to rehabilitate them within the state itself.
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