The species is officially known as Ochotona iliensis and was named after Li’s hometown, Ili. Li, a conservationist, is also the person who captured these images on July 9, 2014. Scientists do not know much about the Ili Pika, but it is believed to be related to rabbits.
According to Li, the population of Ili Pika’s has fallen drastically (about 70%) since he first discovered them. In an interview with CNN, Li said that he would feel very guilty if this creature went extinct right in front of him. Li retired early so he can spend more time studying the Ili Pika.
With the help of some volunteers, they have estimated that the population of Ili Pika’s is less than 1,000. Li and his crew have started to refer to the animals as the “magic rabbit.” Sadly, there is nothing magical about them becoming extinct. It is believed that global warming and air pollution has contributed to their decline.
Currently, no official organization conducts research or protects the Ili Pika. Li hopes that other people take over his efforts when he is no longer able to climb the mountains to study and protect this precious animal. Share away, people!