PETALING JAYA: It was a documentary shoot that nearly left two R.AGE journalists trampled to death by wild elephants. And for their troubles, the journalists have been rewarded with a prestigious SOPA Award.
The documentary, 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.
[Click on the video above to watch the full documentary, or click here to read the full multimedia story.]
“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 documentary emerged as a winner among a highly-competitive field of 750 entries across 17 categories, with other category 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 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.
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