These are stunning photos of the first “magic rabbit” that’s been spotted in 20 years. WARNING: You might fall in love and have your heart broken, because this adorable rabbit is one of the rarest and most endangered creatures in the world. Their population has dropped to less than 1,000 in their native land of China.
They are called Ili Pika and they live on bare rocks at high elevations in the Tianshan mountain range in northwestern China. They were first discovered in 1983. Since then, their population has dropped by 70%. These magnificently adorable distant relatives of rabbits, are so rare that even scientists know very little about them.
Li Weidong, the conservationist who discovered them, told CNN, “I discovered the species, and I watched as it became endangered. If it becomes extinct in front of me, I’ll feel so guilty.” He and his volunteers have dubbed it the ‘magic rabbit,’ and Li says the pika’s habitat has been affected by global warming. Due to rising temperatures, glaciers have receded and the altitude of permanent snow has risen in the Tianshan mountains, forcing the pikas to gradually retreat further up the mountain peaks.
The mammal, only 20 centimeters long, lives on sloping bare rock faces and feeds on grasses at high elevations. Li says the pika’s habitat has been affected by global warming.
Due to rising temperatures, glaciers have receded and the altitude of permanent snow has risen in the Tianshan mountains, forcing the pikas to gradually retreat to mountain tops, Li said.
Ili pikas were originally found at elevations between 3,200 to 3,400 meters, he said. Now they have retreated to elevations of 4,100 meters.
“They have nowhere else to retreat,” he added.
It’s also a solitary animal and is not as vocal as other pika species, so if predators are near, Ili pikas are not able to alert each other, Li said.
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