Beijing: ‘Magic Bunny’ is the cutest endangered species of mammal that can be found only in China.
Sixty-year-old retired environmentalist Li Weidong has been on a mission for the last 30 years to document and protect the highly endangered Ili Pika. In features, they are mysterious rabbit-like mammal with less than 1,000 left in their species and hence they are now rarer than pandas.
Mr Li Weidong said that it was in 1983 that he first viewed the “magic bunny”.
He has been remembering that occasion vividly. He said that he had been climbing a mountain for four hours, when suddenly viewed the shadow of a small creature running by. When he came to know that it was a magic bunny, it was really a breath taking moment for him.
He then sat down next to some rocks, and suddenly two beautiful ears of Bunny emerged from the crack of one of the rocks. The little thing was staring and blinking at him. According to him, it was the most beautiful and bizarre creature he had ever seen. He was not in a position to believe his eyes.
At that time Mr Li was working on disease prevention. He was not looking to discover a new species.
There are many different kinds of pikas which look like small rabbit-like mammals with short limbs and round ears. But unlike other pikas, the one Mr Li spotted had three distinct brown stripes on its forehead and around its neck.
After three years of research, Mr Li and his team named the little creature the Ili Pika, after the area from where it has been found. It is the Ili Prefecture on the far west side of China’s Xinjiang province.
Scientifically known as Ochotona iliensis, the Ili Pika live in holes between bare rocks at an altitude of 2,800m (9, 186ft) to 4,000m. They are used to live on the extremely cold plateau and feeding on herbs found in the Tian Shan mountains.
After he made the discovery, Mr Li and his fellow conservationists decided to take measures to protect the pikas. But they did not want any publicity.
They thought it was better to leave the pikas alone in their natural habitat.
As they are the natural prey of foxes, weasels and birds, the Ili Pika now face a new danger.
In the past 30 years, their habitat has been shrunk by 71%. This was partly because of climate change in the area. Nowadays it has been found that their grazing area has been taken over by growing population who come to live at the bottom of the mountains.
As the Ili Pikas live on isolated mountain tops, their habitats are highly splited condition. Losing even one is harmful for the entire group.
Ili Pika is an ancient species which has been existing for decades. So it is not ideal to let them disappear from the earth.
Everyone on social media is talking about China’s “magic bunny”, the cutest endangered animal that has been never heard of.
Video on the cutest animal