Go and Find The Real Pikachu
By: Mike Jerrard
It seems you cannot go anywhere these days without seeing kids and even adults glued to their mobiles as they literally search the world for fictional Pokemon characters in the new hit game Pokémon GO. Although I applaud the makers of the game for getting people off the couch and outdoors, I say put down the phone and search for the real Pikachu.
It is speculated that the Pokemon pikachu character may be based of the adorable real life mouse-like creature known as a Pika. Actually related to rabbits and hares, these small alpine mammals occur throughout the northern hemishere from the U.S. to Japan.
As global temperatures climb the pikas which favor cold climates are finding themselves in dire situations. They are climbing higher up the mountains and further north. Eventually they will have no further to go, that is if habitat destruction doesn’t wipe them out first.
Thankfully however not all species of pika are endangered and while in the U.S. one can find the American Pika in National Parks such as Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park along with many more creatures far more majestic than any Pokémon character you might encounter on your phone.
Head to Hokkaido, Japan’s most northerly main island to find the Northern Pika. You can also find it in North Korea if you fancy a more adventurous albeit it restricted tour. Historically being restricted to Pyongyang, some tourism companies are now allowing foreign tourists to travel to other parts of the country.
China is home to the rare and extremely elusive Ili Pika. More rare than the giant panda, this pika was recently photographed for the first time in decades, making this species at the very top of any pika searchers bucket list.
With some 30 species of pika around the world, I urge you to get out there and catch em all (via photographs only of course). During your search, who knows what else you’ll encounter out there with your phone tucked away.