PETALING JAYA: The Star’s R.AGE team has earned yet another distinction as the only Malaysian winner at the prestigious SOPA Awards in Hong Kong this year.
The Elephant in Our Room, a gripping multimedia documentary by R.AGE, was announced as the winner of the awards’ environment reporting category at a gala dinner in Wan Chai, Hong Kong on Thursday night.
R.AGE emerged as a winner among a highly-competitive field of 750 entries across 17 categories, with other finalists including The Washington Post, The New York Times, Financial Times, South China Morning Post, and Rappler.
“In 10 years of judging the SOPA awards, this category was probably the most difficult I have encountered because of the high quality and originality of the reporting,” read the judges’ official statement.
“This untold story about the conflict between the indigenous orang asli and elephants in a remote Malaysian jungle edged it for me because of the way a tenacious team used text, video and their wits to expose a critical situation.”
The Elephant in Our Room explores the escalating conflict between orang asli and wild elephants in the Royal Belum State Park in Perak, where over 36 elephants were translocated to in less than five years.
R.AGE senior producer Elroi Yee and multimedia journalist Shanjeev Reddy spent a week deep in the Perak jungle investigating the issue, during which they were almost trampled by a wild elephant.
“There is an escalating competition for resources in Malaysian jungles, between commercial and conservation interests, and the orang asli. And orang asli are invariably on the losing side,” said Yee.
“We hope this award shines a light on this issue, and contributes to how we should handle our natural resources moving forward.”
The win is the young R.AGE team’s 11th major award since it was revamped in late 2015 as a documentary journalism and multimedia production unit.
To watch the award-winning documentary The Elephant in Our Room, go to rage.com.my/elephant-in-our-room.