A rare and adorable mammal known as the “Magic Rabbit” or Ili Pika (Ochotona iliensis) has recently been spotted for the first time in 20 years. Discovered in 1983 in remote regions of northwest China, the Ili Pika has captivated the attention of conservationist Li Weidong. Sadly, the species is facing a decline in population due to the impacts of climate change, and less than 1,000 individuals are estimated to remain in the wild.
Mr. Li Weidong, who originally discovered the Ili Pika, expressed his concern about its endangered status, stating that its numbers have declined by nearly 70% since the 1980s. Feeling a deep sense of responsibility, he decided to take action by organizing a team of volunteers in 2014 to track down and study the elusive creature. However, despite investing most of his savings into the research, Mr. Li encountered a lack of interest from authorities in supporting the conservation efforts.
Mr. Li emphasized the urgent need for action, noting that the Ili Pika’s existence is under threat, and they are no longer found in their previous habitats in the Tianshan Mountains. As he approaches 60 years of age, Mr. Li hopes that an organization will step forward to study and protect the Ili Pika, as he won’t be able to continue climbing the mountains himself.
The plight of the Ili Pika serves as a reminder of the devastating effects of climate change on vulnerable species and highlights the importance of conservation efforts to prevent their extinction.