Asia

Extremely rare 'magic rabbit' photographed for first time in more than 20 years

Updated 12:19 PM ET, Tue March 24, 2015
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Native to the Xinjiang region of China, there are only 1,000 of these tiny, cute creatures, known as the Ili pika, left. The species was photographed for the first time in more than 20 years on July 9, 2014. Courtesy Li Weidong
Ili pikas live on bare rocks at high elevations in the Tianshan mountain range in northwestern China. Courtesy Li Weidong
Chinese scientist and conservationist Li Weidong points to where he first discovered the Ili pika, which he named after his hometown, in 1983. Now, he says, there are none to be found here. Courtesy Li Weidong
Prior to Li's 2014 field study, the last time the rare animal was photographed was in 1990. Courtesy Li Weidong
Li points to the location where he and his team spotted the Ili pika in 2014. He had not seen one for two decades. Courtesy Li Weidong
Li says the pika's habitat has been affected by global warming. Due to rising temperatures, glaciers have receded and the altitude of permanent snow has risen in the Tianshan mountains, forcing the pikas to gradually retreat further up the mountain peaks. Courtesy Li Weidong