Animal Thought To Have Been Extinct Is Caught On Camera For The First Time In Years


6 days ago

This is definitely one species that could do with a lot of saving.

The Ili pika just might be one of the cutest, most adorable animals on the face of the Earth. However, their cuteness isn’t a guarantee of life, and it is very possible that these animals will become extinct in the next few years.

Formerly known as Ochotona iliensis, the Ili pika was first discovered in 1983. The highly cute animal is native to a very tiny and remote part of China, and they’ve enjoyed a relatively peaceful existence. These animals are incredibly adorable, but according to reports, it is quite unfortunate that these teddy bear look-alikes have a total global population that is less than 1,000.

The beautiful animal was discovered by Li Weidong in the Xinjiang region of Northwestern China, and he has continued to watch in sadness as their numbers have drastically declined ever since then. According to estimates by Li, the total population of Ili pikas has declined as much as 70% ever since they were first discovered in 1983.

In 2008, the Ili pika, which is a close relative of the rabbit, was put on the list of endangered species. However, it is unfortunate that there is no conservation group that is dedicated to performing research and protecting them. This is one of the major reasons for their drastic decline in population.

The animal, which is known for its adorable face and fluffy body, is just below 8 inches in length, and it usually lives in the lofty elevations of the mountains. They enjoy feeding on grass as well.

Li suspects that the major cause of the decline in the population of the Ili pika is global warming. Due to the rising temperatures, there has been a steady increase in the snow levels, and this phenomenon has forced the Ili pikas to move further up the mountains.

In the past the animals could be found at elevations of around 10,500 to 11,100 feet but now, they seem to be residing at altitudes of about 13,450 feet. This difference is definitely drastic. When Li first made the discovery of these animals, he estimated that there were about 2,900 of them. As of today, the total population stands at about a third of that estimated figure.

“I was the one who discovered the species, and I watched on as it became endangered. If they all die in front of me, I’ll feel really guilty about it,” Li said to CNN.

Li has decided to spearhead research and conservation. Back in 2014, he organized a group of 20 volunteers to help him track down all the Ili pikas and perform some sort of population estimate. Endearingly, the group gave the Ili pika the moniker “the miracle rabbit”

Li says he has spent well over $23,000 of his personal cash to help fund the research for this animal, although he occasionally receives grants from the World Wide Fund for Nature. However, he says he’s not upset the most about the lack of funding. Rather, the lack of recognition for the grave danger that these animals face is what angers him.

“At any point in time, this species could become extinct. They are no longer in the places where they used to be” he said.

Li has been doing all he can to press for the creation of a nature reserve for these animals. However, it would seem like all pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

“I’m almost 60 now, and I’ll soon be unable to climb up the Tianshan Mountains. I really hope that an organization gets people to study and protect these animals,” he said.