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Rare ‘Ili Pika rabbit has been photographed for the first time in 20 years. Credit to the photographer, Li Weidong, who captured thsi image in teh Xinjiang region of China on July 9, 2014. There are less than 1,000 of these teddy bear-like creatures living in the Tianshan mountain range. More information and images can be found here.

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Cute Ili pika rediscovered in China after 24 years

Over 24 years after it was last spotted in China’s Xinjiang, the irresistibly cute Ili pika, with the face resembling a teddy bear and ears shaped like a rabbit, has once again been discovered.

Pictures of the rare creature published by the National Geographic last week have left millions in awe. What’s more the creature has seemingly topped the giant panda, China’s national treasure, on the cuteness quotient.

According to Li Weidong, the photographer and the original discoverer of the species, the Ili pika accidentally showed itself while he was setting up his camera in the Tianshan Mountains. All that he had to do was seize the opportunity and snap a few shots.

For Li, seeing the creature again was a reward for his persistence. Since he first discovered it in 1983, he has been volunteering to research on and protect the species for over 30 years.

According to National Geographic, the Ili pikas tend to be around 20 centimeters long, and are used to living at high altitudes, between 2,800 and 4,100 meters.

The animal has been listed as endangered by the IUCN (International Union for the Conversation of Nature). Chinese scientists estimate that there are less than 1,000 individuals remaining, less than half the number estimated in the 1990s.

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China’s Ili pika is going extinct

This small mammal is in extreme danger of going extinct. The Ili pika, a tiny creature that can be found in the the Tianshan mountain range in the Xinjiang region of China, was discovered by conservationist Li Weidong in 1983. According to Weidong, less than 1,000 of these mammals exist. And yes it should remind you of that other famous Pika.

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A very rare Ili pika has been photographed in the Tianshan Mountains in China. Very little is known about the teddy bear-like Ili pikas as no successful observations about its ecology, behaviour or reproduction has been carried out.

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Picture: Li Weidong