You see that cute critter? I hope you enjoy that photo. Savor it. That's the first image of an ili pika taken in 20 years. It's estimated only 2,900 Ili pika existed last time the species had its picture taken in the early 1990s. Today, that estimate is around 1,000 living ili pika. Now I'm no scientist, but I suspect if we do nothing for my new best friends, the ili pika, their next photo will be snapped in the extinct section of a Natural History Museum.
A rabbit that looks like a really cute dog
The ili pika, endemic to the Tian Shan mountains of northwest China, is also called the "Magic Rabbit," though I prefer to call it the "Rabbit that looks like a really cute dog that needs kisses and a nice home." Of course, the ili pika doesn't actually need a home, it just needs protection from whatever the hell is killing it off — the cause is unknown, though some conservationists blame global warming, along with low population density and mating issues.
In 2008, the International Union for Conservation of nature added the animal to its list of endangered species, though the animal still has no group seeking to protect it from disappearing off the face of the planet. Cute and uncute animals alike are slipping out of existence. And look at us, feasting on cute animal GIFS. Hypocrites! Fools! We already lost the great auk and the baiji!
The ili pika was first discovered and photographed by conservationist Li Weidong in 1983, naming the animal after his hometown Ili. Weidong has been tracking the animal ever since. According to CNN, he retired in 2007 to devote himself to searching for the animal. Last year, with 20 volunteers and infrared camera, Weidong found the Ili pika and captured these images, which are running in this month's issue of National Geographic.
"If it becomes extinct in front of me, I'll feel so guilty," Weidong told CNN. He later added, "I'm almost 60, and soon I won't be able to climb the Tian Shan Mountains. I really hope that an organization will have people study and protect the Ili pika."
Verge Video: Can we bring animals back from extinction?