An incredibly rare animal that has been dubbed China’s ‘magic bunny’ by the media has been photographed for the first time in 20 years.
The Ili Pika (Ochotona iliensis) resembles a rabbit and is only found in China and, with less than 1,000 thought to be left, they are now rarer than pandas. The individual who first discovered this cute creature in 1983 is now retired conservationist Li Weidong, who has recently expressed his concern over the publicity the viral ‘magic bunny’ is receiving. While those on inclusive China holidays this summer will be hoping to catch a rare sight of such a special animal, Li is concerned that too much publicity of this kind will put the species in further danger.
While there are other kinds of pikas that are not quite so endangered as the Ili Pika, Li is concerned that this new found attention for this particular pika could be detrimental to its survival. The Ili Pika can be distinguished from its relative species by its three distinct brown stripes on the forehead and around the neck.
“More attention also means more danger for them”
While the Ili Pika was first discovered in 1983, a recent National Geographic article on its recent rediscovery has seen the bunny-like creature go viral on social media. This is a huge concern for Li as he tells the BBC “Many people have written to me to say they want to help me protect the pikas,” before adding, “But more attention also means more danger for them.”
— Greenpeace UK (@GreenpeaceUK) March 28, 2015
The small mammal was named by Li after the area in which it was discovered, the Ili Prefecture of China’s Xinjiang province. Their increasing vulnerability is thought to be in part due to the shrinking nature of their habitat, which has shrunk by 71 percent in the past 30 years as a result of climate change and a growing population of people in the area.
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Image Credit: Philpete (flickr.com)