The Ili pika is a very cute critter that has been observed for the first time in 20 years. It’s also one of the world’s rarest and most endangered mammals.
Scientists know virtually little about the species because of its rarity. These cute “teddy bears” are distant relatives of rabbits, which explains their long ears, which make you question what animal you’re looking at.
Ili Pika was discovered in the Tianshian Mountain range in northeastern China in 1983. After two decades, Li Weidong, a conservationist, spotted and photographed the reclusive creature.
According to Mr. Li Weidong, the species’ population has decreased by over 70% since the early 1980s, with fewer than 1,000 individuals remaining in the wild.
The beautiful species is affectionately referred to as the “Magic Rabbit” by him and his volunteers. They believe its number is decreasing as a result of global warming.
“I discovered the species, and I watched as them become endangered,” Li Weidong told CNN. I’ll feel terrible if it goes extinct right in front of my eyes.”
When Li saw that no one was willing to aid these precious young creatures, he resolved to take action.
In 2014, he assembled a group of 20 volunteers to track down the cute animal in order to establish its population and aid in the conservation of this endangered species.
Weidong took early retirement to research the species, but at nearly 60 years old, he won’t be able to continue hiking up the hazardous Tianshan Mountains for long. “I’m over 60 years old, and I won’t be able to climb the Tianshan Mountains any longer.”
“So I’m hoping that someone or some organization would research and conserve the Ili Pika,” the conservationist continued.