Ili Pika Photographed: Cute Animal Is Seen For The First Time In 20 Years (Photo)

March 25, 2015 | By Garrett Montgomery More

The first Ili Pika seen in 20 years was photographed by the man who discovered the species and the amazing story makes headlines. The Ili Pika, an elusive little creature that looks like a teddy bear and a bunny, was spotted by conservationist Li Weidong in the summer of 2014. The Ili Pika, which is on the verge of extinction, has been seen only 29 times since it was first discovered by Weidong in 1983.

ili pika seen

Ili Pika is seen for the first time in 20 years, the story has people talking. In July of 2014, a group of researchers lead by scientist Weidong Li, traveled to the Tian Shan Mountains in China, determined to do the impossible – get few pictures of one the rarest animals on this planet – the Ili Pika.

Mr. Weidong Li is a scientist from the Xinjiang Institute for Ecology and Geography and is also the man who first discovered the little animal in 1983. Weidong decided to rename the animal formerly known as Ochotona iliensis after his hometown, Ili.

Ili Pika is the inspiration behind Pikachu from the Pokémon comic books and animated shows. The last time the scientist spotted an Ili Pika was in the early 1990s, and he barely snapped few photographs of it.

But last year, luck was on Weidong’s side because as his team was setting their equipment, an Ili Pika appeared between the gap in the cliff, and he was able to take few photos.

Tatsuya Shin, who was part of a team of 20 volunteers, revealed how happy they were to see the mammal aka magic rabbit by saying:

“They found it hiding behind a rock, and they realized they had found the pika. They were very excited.”

Almost nothing is known about the ecology or behavior of the species because scientists have not been able to capture or get close to one. In an interview with CNN, Weidong stated that in the past 32 years, he believes the number of Ili Pikas has declined by almost 70%.

An estimated 2,000 mature individuals existed in the early 1990s. But they concluded that there were fewer than 1,000 in 2014. The animal has completely vanished from the Jilimalale and Hutubi South Mountains

Weidong and his team fought hard to get the Ili Pika listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2008. However, there is no official organization or team dedicated to studying or protecting it.

Weidong added that he does not want to fail at saving the fuzzy little creature. He shared:

“I discovered the species, and I watched as it became endangered. If it becomes extinct in front of me, I’ll feel so guilty.”

In an effort to keep the species alive, he has spent over $32,000 from his own money to fund the research. He explained

“This tiny species could be extinct any time.They don’t exist in the sites where they used to be anymore.”

Weidong and his volunteers have been calling for the government to help protect the animal. He lamented:

“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.”

Recently, he received some positive news, the Department of Wildlife and Forest Plants Protection, under the Ministry of Forestry, announced that the Ili pika will be added to China’s List of Wildlife under Special State Protection — part of the country’s 1988 Wildlife Protection Law.

What are your thoughts on the first Ili Pika seen in 20 years?

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    Comments (6)

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    1. andy says:

      cuter than a panda

    2. larry says:

      so so sweet

    3. neal says:

      darn, from the headline tease (rare animal spotted) I thought they were talking about an honest politician, not seen for at least 50 years. 🙂


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