Highland Farm & Gibbon Sanctuary animals seized in Thai crackdown
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2003:
Phop Phra, Tak, Thailand–Thai forestry officials trying to
halt illegal wildlife farming on November 27, 2002 raided the
Highland Farm & Gibbon Sanctuary, where on May 10 cofounder William
Emeral Deters, 69, housekeeper Ratchanee Sonkhamleu, 26, her
three-year-old daughter, Hmong worker Laeng sae Yang, and a Thai
worker known only as Subin were massacred during a botched robbery.
The forestry department on November 28 seized 126 sambar elk
from an alleged illegal antler farm in Kanchanburi province, and may
have been confused by the use of the word “farm” in the name of the
Highland Farm sanctuary.
“There were about 30 officials, some armed,” Deters’ widow
Pharanee Chotiros Deters told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “They said they
received their orders from Bangkok, where a complaint was received
from someone who said we illegally had endangered gibbons.”
Thirty-six gibbons, four monkeys, and eight peacocks were
seized, technically, but remained on the premises.
“They said that since we are in the process of becoming a
foundation, they will return all the animals to us when the
paperwork is done,” Mrs. Deters added.
Mrs. Deters, 60, reiterated her determination to continue
the sanctuary, which she and her late husband founded together in
Former employee Maung Htwe, 19, is awaiting trial for the
murders, facing the death penalty. His brother Than Saw Htaik, 23,
and three friends are charged as accomplices.
[Contact the Highland Farm & Gibbon Sanctuary c/o Pharanee
Deters, P.O. Box 24, A. Mae Sot, Tak 63110, Thailand;