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Black Pika Image source: wwfindia.org

Black Pika (ochotona nigritia) is closely related to hares and rabbits. Discovered in China in 2000, it was believed to be endemic to Yunan province.

Last month, a team of wildlife experts from WWF – India stumbled upon the Black Pika in West Kameng district, in Western Arunachal Pradesh. WWF members sighted two black pikas in Pangila and Potok areas at an altitude of 13000 feet, while conducting surveys in the Thembang Bapu community-conserved forest area in West Kameng district.

Western Arunachal Pradesh Map. Image source: http://www.clsp.jhu.edu

The black pika , a close cousin of rabbits and hares, is a small mammal with short limbs, rounded ears, a short tail and, as the name suggests, is covered in black fur. Another distinctive feature of the pika is its high-pitched distress call, which it makes when diving into its borrow on being threatened by predators.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the black pika under the “data deficient” category. Information related to its occurrence, status, threats and ecological requirements are yet to be ascertained.

According to divisional forest officer of Bomdila, Surabhi Rai , Eearlier, the mammal was thought to be found only in China, but now it has also been found here. This is an important discovery as it would provide more knowledge about the species.

Read more here.  Though it is exciting that we are discovering new species, we should also be mindful about living in harmony with nature and take measures to stop species extinction.