An extremely rare teddy-bear lookalike mammal has been spotted in China for the first time in 20 years.

The tiny Ili Pika, an eight-inch long rabbit-relative, is one of the world's most endangered animals with less than 1,000 animals believed to be left in its natural habitat.

The Ili Pika population is believed to have declined by almost 70 per cent since its discovery in 1983, scientists say. The Ili Pika, formally known as Ochotona iliensis, was discovered by conservationist Li Weidong in 1983, who named it after his hometown.

The animals can only be found in the Tianshan mountain range in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China, and its territory is under threat, with the population rapidly declining.

When the Ili Pika was first discovered, Mr Li and his team estimated that there were around 2,900 animals living in the Tianshan mountain range.

Nearly 20 years later, in 2002, Mr Li conducted a new demographic, which found that the population had dropped to 2,000. Last year's fresh census, which is when the Ili Pika was spotted for the first time in 20 years, concluded that the population is down to less than 1,000 pikas.

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