Influencer Faces Backlash After Posing Naked On The Back Of An Endangered Elephant For Instagram Photos

Influencer Faces Backlash After Posing Naked On The Back Of An Endangered Elephant For Instagram Photos

A 22-year-old Instagram influencer has received serious backlash from animal rights charities in Asia after she staged a photoshoot of herself posing naked on the back of an endangered elephant while on vacation in Bali, Indonesia. Alesya Kafelnikova, daughter of champion tennis player Yevgeny Kafelnikov, shared a video of herself lounging on the animal’s back with her 547,000 followers and was immediately called out for her “insensitive” and “exploitative” act.

  1. She captioned the video “natural vibes.” In another post containing more photos of her with the animal, she wrote: “To love nature is human nature.” No doubt she thought that her photos with the elephant would make her seem edgy or cool and gain her more likes and follows on Instagram. However, many people were extremely unhappy.
  2. One animal charity described it as a “tragic trivialization.” The opinion of many animal rights charities and animal supporters was that Kafelnikova’s photoshoot was a “violation” against the animal and that she exploited the endangered creature for her own financial gain as an influencer. Given that the elephants are endangered and in serious need of care and help, many believe that the young woman’s decision was incredibly clueless at best and cruel at worst.
  3. Kafelnikova defended her actions in a follow-up post. Rather than taking the images down and apologizing for what she’d done, Kafelnikova returned to Instagram to post further photos with the elephant, one of which showed her cleaning the animal’s feet. “If someone does not know I have been doing charity work for many years and one of my last donations was financial support to animals and to local people in the village, in which I took these photos,” she explained. “It is a pity that people see this as vulgarity, and not as a beauty and love for nature. I love animals, I love elephants! And I love Bali so so much! I hope each of you will awaken an aesthetic love for my post and the beauty.”
  4. She described it as a “private photoshoot.” While it’s unclear how the shoot was arranged and who was behind it, Kafelnikova believes it makes a difference that the pictures were taken in a “private” capacity. “It was a private photoshoot, I didn’t have a purpose to hurt the feelings of local people at all. We love balinese culture and respect Indonesian rules. Please sorry if you see something else in this,” she wrote. “My intention with these pictures was to show you that I love and respect animals and especially elephants more than anything. I would wish that all those who are so negative will awaken an aesthetic love for my post and you will see the wonderful beauty in it!”


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Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill