The Chinese government is trying to exterminate the animal that has inspired the Pikachu character, the electric yellow mouse that charmed thousands of fans of the Pokémon series.

Pika is a small, rat-like mammal that lives in vast areas of northwestern China, especially on the Tibetan plateau, which is about 2.5 million square kilometers large. It is regarded by the Chinese Government as a plague and therefore has been the target of a poisoning plan.

The scientific community has warned for some time about the dangers of total extinction of pika, of which there are currently about 30 species (others are already extinct). Recently, a study published in the scientific journal Ambio contradicted the Chinese Government’s view that the presence of pika on the plateau has contributed to the degradation of soil quality. According to the study authors, these mammals are a fundamental species for biodiversity and their burrowing activity provides a crucial service to the ecosystem, increasing the level of water infiltration, thus reducing surface runoff. With the death of pika, other species are affected and end up also disappearing, scientists argue, referring to cases of birds and reptiles that use the burrows of small rats as shelter.

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