First discovered in 1983, this extremely cute, elusive mountain-dwelling creature is one of the most endangered animals on Earth. Meet Ili Pika or Ochotona iliensis, maybe the most adorable mammal on the planet.
Native to some very remote regions in the North West of China, the “magic rabbit,” was first discovered by the conservationist Li Weidong. In fact he’s the one who managed to captured the elusive creature on camera after two decades.
Unfortunately, according to Mr. Li Weidong, the species number declined by almost 70% since the early 80’s, with less than 1,000 individuals left in the wild.
“I discovered the species, and I watched as it became endangered,” Li told CNN. “If it becomes extinct in front of me, I’ll feel so guilty.”
Therefore, when seeing no one is about to help these adorable little creatures, Li decided to take matters into his own hands. In 2014, he organized a team of 20 volunteers in his attempt to track down the cute animal in order to establish its numbers and therefore, to help at the conservation of the species. Sadly, Li who spent most of his savings to fund the research, hit a totally lack of interest from the authorities.
“This tiny species could be extinct any time,” he said. “They don’t exist in the sites where they used to be anymore.
“I’m almost 60, and soon I won’t be able to climb the Tianshan Mountains. So I really hope that an organization will have people study and protect the Ili Pika,” the conservationist added.
According to Mr. Li, the adorable creatures used to be found up to 13,450 feet in the Tianshian mountains.