Apparently, you don’t have to go to a galaxy far, far away to see Ewoks. In the Tian Shan Mountains of China, researchers have spotted the elusive Ili Pika, an adorable creature which hasn’t been seen in two decades. Discovered back in 1983 by conservationist Li Weidong, he named the rare mammal after his hometown, and not after Pikachu.
The so-called ‘magic bunny’ measures about eight inches long and is a distant relative of the rabbit. It has eluded research teams for decades, sneaking in and out of cliffs, avoiding getting photographed. Until now.
Li, on another one of his Pika spotting expeditions, was able to snap the photos above. According to him, the species numbered around 2,900 at the time of their discovery. Now, their numbers are down to less than a thousand, most likely due to human activity and climate change.
‘I discovered the species, and I watched as it became endangered. If it becomes extinct in front of me, I’ll feel so guilty’, said Li. He hopes that the Ili Pika’s mountain ranges would soon be declared a nature reserve to help their species survive and thrive again.
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