Rare Rabbit Makes an Unexpected Appearance in China, By Ellie Chivers
Photo By Joshua Soritino
Have you ever heard of the Ili Pika? Or maybe you know it by its other name, the Magic Rabbit? If you have, you’re probably one of the rare few. First discovered in 1983, the beautiful creature was found in the Tianshan mountain range in north-western China by scientist Weidong Li. Since then, only 29 different Ili Pikas have made themselves known – yet, Li believes that when he first found one, there were only 3,000 in the wild. Such low figures have made the animals very difficult to study, let alone keep tabs on. Its outlook was bleak, with the looming conclusion being that the closest thing to an Ili Pika left on Earth may be Pikachu - the cartoon has some very deliberate resemblances. However, hope has been restored: the Ili Pika has been spotted for the first time in 20 years, crouching behind a rock.
But, as “excited” as fellow discoverer Tatsuya Shin says they were to find it, there’s a dark side to the tale. Li now reckons Ili Pika numbers have depleted by 70% due to climate change and habitat destruction. It’s an all-too-familiar story, reflecting that of countless other species: polar bears, adèlie penguins, reindeer, dolphins. And who can forget Romeo the Sehuencas water frog - thought to be the very last of his kind until, after a giant research mission and a Match.com dating profile, he found his Juliet amongst just four others of the species. The truth is, we will miss these animals greatly when we eventually force them into extinction. Li himself says: “I discovered [Ili Pikas], and I watched as it became endangered. If it becomes extinct in front of me, I’ll feel so guilty.”
We can only hope the stunning photos Li snapped of this gorgeous creature can raise awareness of it elusive but limited existence. While it’s so great to see the Lil Pika has resurfaced, it’s so sad that another desolate tale of animal extinction coincides with it – the need to fight climate change and habitat destruction has never been so plain to see. | Tru.🌱
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