Alesya Kafelnikova, Russian influencer and the daughter of Grand Slam-winning tennis legend Yevgeny Kafelnikov, has come under fire over footage of her lying on top of a Sumatran elephant in Bali, Indonesia.
In the post which she uploaded over the weekend, she wrote the caption, “Natural Vibes”, and could be seen lying on top of the elephant naked, with her chest nearly revealed fully.
In no time, the footage went viral and was distributed with very sensational headlines across social media.
This has made her the subject of criticisms for the past week.
Most of the outrage came from people who believe her actions were insensitive and that she was exploiting an endangered species for her gain.
The 22-year-old is reported to have been in Bali for two months, and it is evident in the little Coconuts sleuthing on Instagram.
Thus, it can be confirmed that the shot of her on the elephant was taken in Bali recently.
In another post, before the heavy criticisms began to rain on her, she wrote, “The love of nature is human nature.”
— ANTON RASI (@ANTONRASI2) February 18, 2021
Unknown to her, the post didn’t go down too well with some of her fans, and particularly the natives of Indonesia.
In their reaction to the post, one animal charity defined her actions as “Yet another tragic trivialization of the majestic Asian elephant, a species that is still struggling to survive amid the brutal abuse in tourism and human entertainment.”
Others have described the incident as a violation of animal rights and disrespect for culture, with one person writing “Money overshadows everything.”
The criticisms came as a bit of a surprise to the 22-year-old who supposed her followers must have misunderstood the message she was trying to pass.
Therefore, she took to her Instagram page again to pen down a pretty lengthy post ladened with emotions:
“For people who don’t know, I have been doing charity work for many years, and one of my recent donations was financial support to local people in the village wherein I shot these photos. It’s saddening that people are seeing my post as vulgarity, rather than the love for nature, as I had intended.”
Furthermore, she wrote, “I love animals. I love elephants! And I love Bali so much! Therefore, I’m hoping you all will develop aesthetic love for my posts and the beauty in them.”
“It was a private photo shoot, and I had no intention of hurting the people of this village and their immediate surrounding. I’ve always loved and respected the Balinese culture and rules, so I’m sorry if you read a different meaning into my post,” she apologized.
Meanwhile, while the footage of the Russian influencer continues to circulate on social media, the head of Bali Tourism Agency, Chief Putu Astawa, has given his stance on the incident, saying he will need to investigate if the footages were indeed shot on the Island.
“We can’t take any action until we confirm if the clips were taken in Bali or elsewhere. We also need to know if it’s new or just an old video recirculated on the internet,” he said.
The chief also explained that tourism on the island is very much tied to the Bali local culture. He, however, admitted that the actions of Alesya Kafelnikova are not in line with the local culture and norms.
Although the Russian influencer has genuinely apologized and explained the rationale behind her footage, the natives of Bali are not having any of it and have called on the authorities to put in place drastic measures to protect endangered animals such as the Sumatran elephant. That way, things such as this will be attenuated, they believe.