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The Ili Pika is an incredibly rare rabbit-like animal that’s found in the Tianshan Mountains of northwestern China. As you can see from the photograph this is probably one of the cutest animals on the planet, but it is unfortunately almost extinct, which is why a sighting like this is so incredible. According to a 1990s estimate by the IUCN Red List, there may only be about 2000 of these left in the wild.

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According to records, the Ili pika has only been spotted 29 times over the last three decades. Photographer Weidong Li was lucky enough to catch another glimpse of this adorable creature perched on the rock face and grabbed a few photographs. Weidong Li seems to have a knack for running into the animal, as he first came upon the pika in 1983. Two years later he caught one, which helped lead to the declaration of a new species found.

According to National Geographic, the Ili pika lives in high elevations between 2,800 and 4,100 meters (9,200 and 13,450 feet), and primarily eats grasses, herbs, and other mountain plants. Unfortunately, a 2005 census report estimates that the Ili pika is no longer present at 57% of previously inhabited sites. “This tiny species could be extinct any time,” Li told CNN. “They don’t exist in the sites where they used to be anymore.” He added: “If it becomes extinct in front of me, I’ll feel so guilty.”

Currently there are no known conservation measures being taken to protect the Ili pika. Li hopes that stories like this will help bring attention to their rarity and promote conservation efforts that will ensure its continued existence.


Photo Credit: LI WEIDONG


Photo Credit: LI WEIDONG

Photo Credit: LI WEIDONG.  Photograph was taken on July 9, 2014.

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