Being cute is threatening the survival of the Chinese pika. The little fury animal is facing extinction as too many people are trying to capture them, to make them pets.
Li Weidong, a conservationist, discovered Ili pika in 1983, with no intentions of speeding up the disappearance of the little rabbitlike animal. The discovery of the animal was not reported until 2014.
According to Weidong, there were around 2,900 Ili pika in China in 1983 and 2,000 in 2002. However, 2014 figures show that only 1,000 Ili pika remain on Earth.
Ili pika was once found only in the mountains of northwest China. The cuteness of the animal led many Chinese people to capture them for pets. However, Weidong has warned that the change in the habitat of the pika from the Tianshan mountains to people's homes might affect its ability to survive. "Ili pikas, as alpine animals, can't adapt to the environment at low elevations without special facilities. Would they survive? Their population has been already small enough. Human capture will accelerate the extinction," Weidong said in a statement.
Weidong believes that global warming and climate change are additional factors in the pikas' decline. According to the Metro, increased global temperature is leading to disappearance of snow from the Tianshan mountains, the natural habitat of the furry mammal.
Weidong recently set up infrared cameras in the area where he first located the animal. The intention was to study the behavior of the ili pika. However, to his surprise, he did not find a single pika roaming in the area.