The ‘Magic Bunny’

The Magic Bunny - Rare highly-endangered Ili Pika also called magic rabbit watercolor sketch

For today’s uncommon creature we have a ‘magic bunny’ which seemed fitting for this Easter day (hope everyone who celebrates today is having a Happy Easter!). Though it’s actually not really a bunny at all, but a highly-endangered Ili Pika, found only in China. Though it’s not a true rabbit, it is rather bunny-like and cute, so I decided to doodlewash one. With fewer than 1,000 of them left in the world, they are now even rarer than pandas. Conservationist Li Weidong first discovered this new species in 1983 and has been on a mission ever since to document and protect them.

There are many different kinds of pikas, but unlike other pikas, the one Li spotted had three distinct brown stripes on its forehead and around its neck. He and his team named the cute little animal Ili Pika because of where it was found, Ili Prefecture on the far west side of China’s Xinjiang province. After seeing the critter once more in 1990, it would be over 24 years before Li would ever see the elusive ‘magic bunny’ again. The pictures he released in 2014, upon finally discovering one again, went viral and he was able to raise additional money for his research via a crowd-funding site. Unfortunately, this also caused some misguided people to begin attempting to capture them as pets. A prospect that would only decrease their numbers as they are not adapted to live in lower altitudes.

They are the natural prey of foxes, weasels and birds, but they now have bigger things to fear. Their numbers are quickly decreasing due to climate change and a 71% habitat loss caused by the growing human population at the base of the Tianshan mountains where they live. Though little is known about them, Li and his team have set up infrared cameras to learn more about their behavior. The Ili Pika is an ancient species and Li is doing everything he can to protect them. If he and his team are successful, there’s still hope that the ‘magic bunny’ will survive us and be around for years to come.

For some really great doodlewashes and drawings of pikas, be sure to check out the work of Teresa Robeson of One Good Thing!


About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Azo Orange, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue,  and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
Published in By Charlie
44 Comments
  1. Richard Eric Disney 1 year ago

    Happy Easter friend–I know, I have been MIA–I’m SO sorry–coffee Or drinks soon??? <3

  2. Jessica Seacrest 1 year ago

    Darling sketch and greatly informative. Thanks Charlie and Happy Easter.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Jessica! 😃💕I thought these guys looked super cute and should be doodlewashed! Hehe… Hope you had a wonderful Easter!

  3. Tom Merriman 1 year ago

    Aw, what a cute chap this one is, Charlie! Happy Easter, by the way.
    Yet again we humans screw something else up. Sigh. There’s hope with this one, though… they may number many more as they’re so elusive (24 years before one is seen again is pretty impressive!) I live in hope…

    • Author

      Thanks Tom and hope you had a Happy Easter as well! And I agree… I’m hoping that they have just managed to stay the hell away from us and are secretly thriving!

  4. Kari 1 year ago

    What a beautiful creature! It does look very much like a bunny. I wonder if these shy creatures would be better off if left undiscovered. Hope you had a lovely Easter! ❤️

    • Author

      I think they would be better off without us. Certainly would have faired better without becoming a viral sensation last year. Hope you have a wonderful Easter as well, Kari! 😃💕

  5. Cathe 1 year ago

    What a sweet Ili Pika! And such a darling rendering of this little fellow. I hope Li and his research team are successful at reestablishing these critters into nature. I have to agree with Kari, they were better off not being discovered by humans.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Cathe! 😃💕 Yeah… I’m definitely in agreement that discovery by humans is often bad. Actually, Li was worried about this with all the exposure they were getting. Wanting them as pets is just stupid, but some people set out to do it. Humans are such weird creatures… some of them are still haven’t evolved I think. 😉

  6. Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

    Have I started a trend? This is the second pika I’ve seen today on my friends’ blogs! I saw the articles on FB about this little cutie pie. You did him justice! 💙

    • Author

      Haha! You have! I was hoping you’d see this one, Teresa! 😃💕Actually though… it was the only thing rabbit-like and rare I could find when googling. Regular rabbits due to their well… insane ability to reproduce… are not very uncommon and don’t count for this series! lol

  7. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 1 year ago

    Charming little creature. I see it sat very still for its portrait and you did it justice, Charlie.

  8. Teri C 1 year ago

    How sad for this beautiful animal. Beautifully painted. And happy Easter with the perfect creature for today.

    • Author

      Thanks Teri!😃💕 It’s getting a bit sad with some of these creatures. I’m hoping this guy is just good at hiding! Hope you have a wonderful Easter my friend!

  9. Jacob 1 year ago

    Here’s that bunny I was talking about only earlier… well, ish! Right on cue! And what a wonderful little creature it is; your doodlewash is full of a teddy-like charm which makes me only want one even more, even though I mustn’t. I hope there are actually more than thought, and they’re just playing tricks on us. He’s so sweet! I hope you are having a nice Easter, Charles O & Co.! <3

    • Author

      Hehe… Thanks Jacob! It was so funny when I read you comment and was just about to post a bunny! Lol Yeah… I’m going with the notion that they’re super stealth or even have the ability to turn themselves invisible! (that would be super cool!!). Hope you had a nice Easter as well!

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        Let’s hope so. Perhaps they don’t even need you and your wand to magic them away to safety! Easter has certainly been chocolaty, so that’s all good as far as I’m concerned.

      • Author

        Had our chocolate tonight. It was wonderful, but now the guilt is setting in and my plans to start a proper diet tomorrow for spring. 😊

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        Haha, a diet… however much chocolate did you eat in one night, Charles? 😛 And besides, it’s not that long until birthday cake! 😉

      • Author

        Lol…Oh, I’m not blaming the chocolate. It’s more of an “I ate like a wild animal throughout winter and my pants are now tight” diet. But there’s no way I’m skipping birthday cake coming soon!! hehe

  10. Jodi 1 year ago

    A magical bunny indeed! Such a cutie for your Easter day post! Hope you had a wonderful day!

    • Author

      Thanks so much Jodi! 😃💕I needed something cute for today and not creepy like some of these have been. Hehe… Hope you have a wonderful Easter day!

  11. Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

    What an adorable Pika! I think Teresa is starting a trend! 😍 Like how cuddly sweet he looks! Hope you had a fabulous Easter and didn’t eat too many chocolate eggs! 🌷🐣💕

    • Author

      Thanks so much Jill! 😃💕Yep! Teresa is starting a pika craze with her amazing illustrations! Well all that’s true, but I had to fess up with her and say that it was really just the Google telling me what a “rare rabbit” was! hehe… apparently not an actual rabbit at all! Hope you had a fabulous Easter! We are having our chocolate today as Philippe had celebrated Easter Monday in France. (so not out of the woods yet. Lol 🐷😊)

  12. Sharon Mann 1 year ago

    Interesting narrative Charlie. The Pika’s are a beautiful little creature.

  13. Best Easter post, so adorable, I hope there are more of these little magic bunnies, hiding in the rocks.

  14. memadtwo 1 year ago

    Hope they can use their magic to hide from humans! (K)

  15. Aww I love that Teresa’s pikas are spreading around. So beautiful. I agree also with Kerfe’s comment!

    • Author

      Thanks Laura! 😉💕 This was actually the only unusual imagery for “rare rabbit” on a Google search of animals. Hehe… I prefer Teresa’s renderings of pikas… soooooo insanely cute!! (hmmm… hey wait… I’m going to add a link to them in this post!)

      • Hehe, aw that’s so cool that you found them when you searched on that term! I’m glad you linked to Teresa’s, they are so cute. I bet it’d be hard to make these guys look any less cute! They are kinda the definition of adorable. 💜👍🏼😜

      • Author

        hehe… they really are! Love these little critters! 😍

  16. Susan Feniak 1 year ago

    If I dare, this guy is adorably teddy bear-ish !! A pikas rush coming on. 🙂

  17. Plover Lock 1 year ago

    Happy Easter to you too! I could imagine how frustrating it is to be that researcher. I mean, you make it public to get funding to know more about a species and to conserve them. The have some people turn around to catch these already rare animals for pets or for money to sell as pets. It is such a double-edged sword.

    • Author

      Thanks! Hope you had a wonderful Easter! I agree…I read some interviews and Li was super frustrated about it and shy about releasing too much now. It’s a crazy world.

  18. artandmoondreams 1 year ago

    Somewhere there must be a “Pika Preservation Society”….sooo adorable. Your painting is lovely and your subject is charming. Heart melted in an instant. Thank you for sharing.

    • Author

      Awww thanks, Haunani! 😃💕 Pikas are so cute…I just looked for a rare rabbit and found this. Added a link to Teresa’s fabulous pikas. They’re such adorable creatures!!

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