The Ili Pika is one of the rarest and most adorable creatures on the planet. A cross between a teddy bear and a rabbit, it is truly one of the cutest animals to have ever existed! These wonderful creatures live in a very remote region of Northwestern China, and their population is on a steady decline.
They were first discovered by a conservationist named Li Weidong in 1983 in the Tien Shan mountain range. The small mammals live only on the upper elevations of the mountains. When they were first discovered, they could be found around 10,500 to 11,100 feet but as the temperatures have begun to rise in the area, they have retreated further up the mountains to about 13,450 feet.
When the animals were first discovered, Li Weidong placed the population at about 2,900. With the loss of habitat, that number has been slashed and they estimate that only a third of it now remains. Li Weidong has dedicated his life to saving the small animal, even though it’s been quite a fight. There are no large organizations trying to help, and no one other than him is trying to study them.
Li Weidong has spent $23,000 of his own money on the research and is occasionally lucky enough to supplement that money with grants. Li Weidong has been working hard to bring awareness to the Ili Pika’s fight to be recognized. Sadly, not many people know about these magnificent creatures and it doesn’t help their plight. If more people don’t learn about these wondrous animals, it’s likely that the Li Weidong will be the one to discover the species and to discover the species extinction.