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The Ili Pika Is Commonly Called The 'Magic Rabbit' And Is Critically Endangered

Amy Pilkington 16 May 2020

There are some animals that make you go "Aww, that's cute," and then you move on with your day, but then there are the animals that are so cute that they derail your day entirely.

Instead of sending that work email or getting to an appointment on time, you now need to look at every possible photograph of this creature, gush over it, and then share all the pics with your friends.

This "Magic Rabbit" is definitely one of those adorable animals.

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Though it looks an awful lot like a short-eared bunny, the magic rabbit is actually a member of the pika family. An Ili pika, specifically.

They only live in a small section of northwest China and are incredibly hard to find.

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In fact, they are so rarely seen that it was first documented in 1983 and not photographed again until 2014.

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Originally spotted by conservationist Li Weidong, he named the species after the Ili Prefecture where he discovered it.

Due to its rarity, very little is known about it.

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They inhabit slopes at high elevations, make little hay piles, and generally eat an herbivore diet.

They are thought to give birth to one or two litters per year, but with only 29 documented live sightings since their discovery, it's hard to know how many babies are born to each litter.

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Since these photos were taken in 2014, no more have been snapped.

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Though there were estimated to be about 2,000 in the wild during the 1990s, continued lack of live specimens and habitat encroachment has made it likely that the population has decreased by up to 70%.

Current estimates list the species as Endangered, with fewer than 1,000 living in the wild with the population continuing to decrease. Due to the lack of scientific knowledge of the species' needs and habits, it has been difficult to find a conservation method most suitable for them.

h/t: IUCN Red List, CNN

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