A small mammal that looks like the Pokémon character Pikachu is in extreme danger of going extinct. The Ili pika, a tiny creature that can be found in a remote region in China, was discovered by conservationist Li Weidong in 1983. While it is unclear if the tiny mammal is the inspiration for the popular Pokémon character, Pikachu, the similarities are uncanny.
After discovering the tiny mammal, Li named the creature after his hometown in northern China, Ili. According to Li, less than 1,000 of these mammals exist in the Tianshan mountain range in the Xinjiang region of China, CNN reported.
"I discovered the species, and I watched as it became endangered," Li, who took a photo of the rare animal in July, told CNN. "If it becomes extinct in front of me, I'll feel so guilty."
According to National Geographic, the Ili pika can be found living at high elevations, usually anywhere between 9,200 and 13,450 feet. The creature's diet consists of herbs, grasses, and other shrubbery found in the mountains.
Li has taken on the burden of funding research regarding the Ili pika, in conjunction with donations and help from several organizations. He told CNN that he has spent more than $32,000 of his funds towards this research.
Even though Li has put forth much effort toward spreading awareness about the lli pika's plight, the animal still is not included on China's List of Wildlife under Special State Protection. "This tiny species could be extinct any time," the conservationist told CNN. "They don't exist in the sites where they used to be anymore."