This adorable creature is Ili Pika, which is one of the most endangered and rare animals in the world. The following pictures are the first that have been taken of this elusive mountain dweller in nearly 20 years. The Ili Pika was discovered by Li Weidong in 1983 in the Tianshan mountains located in northwestern China.
The species is officially known as Ochotona iliensis and was named after Li’s hometown, Ili. Li, a conservationist, is also the person who captured these images on July 9, 2014. Scientists do not know much about the Ili Pika, but it is believed to be related to rabbits.
According to Li, the population of Ili Pika’s has fallen drastically (about 70%) since he first discovered them. Li said that he would feel very guilty if this creature went extinct right in front of him. Li retired early so he can spend more time studying the Ili Pika.
Currently, no official organization conducts research or protects the Ili Pika. Li hopes that other people take over his efforts when he is no longer able to climb the mountains to study and protect this precious animal.
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