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Cute 'magic rabbit' Ili pika more endangered than pandas spotted for first time in 20 years

This is the adorable 'magic rabbit' which has been spotted for the first time in more than 20 years.

The Ili pika is even rarer than the panda, with fewer than 1,000 of the cute little creatures still living in the wild.

The man who discovered it says numbers of the teddy-bear lookalike have declined by almost 70% since it was discovered in 1983.

Its giant mournful eyes and tiny little furry body can't help but melt your heart.

magic rabbitCute: The adorable Ili Pika which has been spotted for the first time in over 20 years

Its big rusty-red splodge on its forehead just adds to its cute appeal.

And these amazing pictures are the first time pika has been spotted since the early 1990s.

Even though pika has a naturally low rate of reproduction, global warming has also been blamed for its decreased numbers as it has caused the erosion of the mammal's natural habitat.

Conservationist Li Weidong found Ili pika in the Tianshan mountain range of the Xinjiang region of northwest China and named it after his hometown Ili.

magic rabbitEndangered: Ili pika risks extinction after its numbers declined 70% since 1990s

He 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 says no official organisation is working to protect the pika despite it being listed as an endangered animal by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2008.

Ili pika was found to be totally extinct in two of the six regions it had previously been observed in Li's 2005 research paper on the mammal.

And last year, he organised a group of 20 volunteers to carry out another survey - which is when they finally spotted a pika when it jumped over Li's feet.

Li WeidongDesperate: Discoverer Li Weidong says much more needs to be done to protect Ili pika

The tiny 20cm long mammal lives on bare rock faces and has been forced to climb higher onto mountain tops as glaciers melt in rising temperatures.

Li said: "They have nowhere else to retreat.

"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 says he is desperate for more to be done to protect the Ili pika.

He said: "This tiny species could be extinct any time."

Source: http://www.mirror.co.uk

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