A social media influencer has sparked fury after posing nude on the back of a critically endangered elephant. Alesya Kafelnikova faced criticism after she posted a short video of herself lying bare on the back of a Sumatran elephant in Bali.
"Natural vibes," the 22-year-old, who is the daughter of former tennis champ Yevgeny Kafelnikov, captioned the video.
Alesya then shared a photo of herself standing beside the elephant with the caption: "to love nature is human nature."
It was not long before the content sparked backlash.
"Poor elephant. Aren't you ashamed to lie naked on an elephant? This is a living creature. Money overshadows everything," one Instagram user wrote per The Sun. Another called the image and video a "violation" of animal rights, while other users posted emojis of broken hearts and crying faces.
Save the Asian Elephants also responded to Alesya's content in a statement to The Sun.
"Yet another tragic trivialization of the majestic Asian elephant when the species is fighting for its very existence against brutal abuse in tourism and human 'entertainment,'" the statement read. "Save The Asian Elephants stands for a ban by law on the advertising and sale of unethical venues where these special creatures are commercialized with beating, stabbing and every kind of torture to break them for easy commercial exploitation – genuine sanctuaries only."
In 2012, the Sumatran elephant was changed from "Endangered" to "Critically Endangered" after half of its population was lost in one generation," the WWF reported. This is largely due to habitat loss and as a result human-elephant conflict. Commenting on the decline in population, Dr. Barney Long, an Asian Species Expert, said deforestation needed to be halted in order to protect the elephants.
"Unless deforestation on the island of Sumatra is halted, we could possibly see the Sumatran elephant be restricted to just a few remote populations within our lifetimes," he said.
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