Prepare to fall in love and have your heart broken at the same time: this adorable creature that you’ve probably never heard of, the Ili Pika, is also one of the rarest and most endangered creatures in the world. Their population in their native China is estimated to have dropped to less than 1,000, and these photos are of the first one that has been spotted in 20 years.
The Ili Pika was first discovered in 1983 in the Tianshian mountains in northwestern China, but its estimated population has dropped by 70% since then. These adorable teddy-bear look-alikes, which are a distant relative of rabbits, are so rare that scientists know very little about them.
Li Weidong, the conservationist who discovered them, told CNN, “I discovered the species, and I watched as it became endangered. If it becomes extinct in front of me, I’ll feel so guilty.” He and his volunteers have dubbed it the ‘magic rabbit,’ but they suspect that its populations may be declining due to global warming.
More info: CNN (h/t: dailymail)
He and his volunteers have dubbed it the ‘magic rabbit’
“I discovered the species, and I watched as it became endangered. If it becomes extinct in front of me, I’ll feel so guilty,” – Li Weidong
Li Weidong, the man who discovered and works to monitor the Ili Pika