Amy Jones

When Sanctuary Ends

In 2023, I joined Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand’s rescue team on a 10-hour journey to the Mae Sot District to photograph the relocation of 16 primates from Highland Farm to WFFT’s wildlife sanctuary in the Phetchaburi province.

Founded in the late 1990s by William and Pharanee Deters, Highland Farm was once home to dozens of various rescued animals. In 2002, tragedy struck when William was shot and killed at the centre by an ex-worker. Despite her loss, Pharanee continued the work the best she could until her passing last year. But, with no will in place for the sanctuary to continue, the forested land is set to be razed to the ground for a coffee plantation, leaving the centre practically abandoned and the animals’ lives in limbo.

It made me consider the question: what happens to the animals when a rescue centre’s founder dies? In this case, some were relocated to zoos and likely back into breeding cycle of the wildlife tourism industry, whilst the lucky ones were able to be relocated by WFFT.

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