Watatunga is a stunning new wildlife reserve in west Norfolk. Situated amongst 170 acres of woodland, grassland and lakes, Watatunga provides a unique environment for over twenty types of ungulate and rare bird species to roam at their will. We run breeding programmes for many of our species including the Malayan sambar, hog deer, barasingha and the great bustard, a spectacular bird which went extinct in the U.K. in 1832.
Access to the reserve is via guided tour only and must be pre-booked online via our website. We also offer luxurious self-catering accommodation with stunning views of the animals and the option to organise private tours for small groups in our electric buggies or large groups in our safari trailer.
Step inside Watatunga and be part of conservation today for wildlife tomorrow.
UNGULATE SPECIES LIST
If you are visiting to see a specific species, please contact us in advance to ensure it is on site. At certain times of year we move species off site to prevent hybridisation or avoid over grazing and supplementary feeding.
Axis deer – Axis axis
Blackbuck – Antilope cervicapra
Chinese water-deer – Hydropotes inermis
Fallow deer – Dama dama
Nilgai – Boselaphus tragocamelus
Western roe deer – Capreolus capreolus
Scimitar-horned oryx – Oryx dammah
Sitatunga – Tragelaphus spekii
Roan antelope – Hippotragus equinus
Père David’s deer – Elaphurus davidianus
Vietnamese sika deer – Cervus nippon pseudaxis
Barasingha (Western swamp deer) – Rucervus duvaucelii
Blesbok – Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi
Eld’s deer (Thamin) – Panolia thamin
Hog deer – Axis porcinus porcinus
Red deer – Cervus elaphus
Mouflon – Ovis orientalis
Malayan sambar deer – Rusa unicolor equinus
Kafue Flats Lechwe – Kobus leche kafuensis
White-lipped deer – Cervus albirostris
Water buffalo – Bubalus bubalis
Manchurian sika deer – Cervus nippon mantchuricus
Ed is a full-time arable farmer who inherited his father’s fascination with Africa and in particular, the many antelope and gazelle species which he discovered there. Proud to be able to name every species of British duck by the age of four, Ed has long been an admirer of Sir Peter Scott and his generation of maverick conservationists. Now a father himself, Ed would like to pass on the genius of nature’s complex systems to the next generation but recognises that it will take much more than a few individuals to ensure that our planet’s precious biodiversity can survive. That’s why Ed is so passionate about establishing Watatunga’s education work and ensuring that young people are empowered to tackle the challenges ahead.
With a background in agriculture, a seven-year stint in the city and a busy farm to run, Ed has not followed a conventional route into conservation. However more recent trips to Africa with his sister Annabel, an internationally renowned wildlife artist, made him increasingly aware of the pressure that habitat loss and hunting were exerting on many of the species he had grown to love. Ed is also involved in an international collaboration to reintroduce the Great Bustard to the U.K. and is proud to have the only Norfolk specimens of this little known bird which went extinct in the U.K. in 1832.
Julian is widely recognised as the leading deer conservationist in Europe. Now an advisor to the board of ungulate management the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species, he is a founding member of the Watatunga team. Having set up Red Oak Genetics, a consultancy business with his partner Dee, Julian travels the length and breadth of the UK advising zoos, safari parks and private collectors as to how to ensure the best possible conditions for their stock within the constraints in which they operate.
Julian has always longed to create a reserve where the animal’s privacy and habitat is awarded equal importance to the visitor experience. He has seen first-hand the powerful results this can have on breeding programmes and he believes that Watatunga is unique in combining these two elements. Julian drives Watatunga’s genetics work, collaborating with universities across Europe to monitor our stock and ensuring that previously forgotten species are awarded the attention that they deserve through work with bodies such as EAZA Deer TAG.
Dee is one of the people you’re most likely to encounter at Watatunga. Our star studded tour guide, Dee is an expert in all things hooved and horned and, until recently, lectured on deer management for the British Deer Farmers and Parks Association (BDFPA). With her training in education and capacity for research, Dee is the go-to person for any questions you may have about any of our ungulate species.
Along with Julian, Dee supports on our genetics work and on forging links with schools and universities. She is also responsible for monitoring changes in the wildlife of the park whether aquatic, avian or ungulate. In her spare time Dee creates stunning jewelry and works of art with discarded antlers as well as being an incredible Mum to four kids.
Accommodation & Education, Watatunga.
Anna has a track record of getting young people outside and having fun. Having trained as a primary school teacher, she has taught in locations as diverse as the Ecuadorian Amazon, Croydon, Lambeth and Rome and in each setting has been a passionate advocate of outdoor learning. Anna works part-time for Watatunga, developing the educational aspects of the park and managing our communications and self-catering accommodation.
JONATHAN USHER SMITH
Reserve Manager, Watatunga.
Jono grew up with a veritable menagerie of orphaned and rescued animals running round the house and followed in his parents’ footsteps into the world of conservation, volunteering from a young age in the wildlife park his father was managing. He is passionate about the conservation and management of native species and improving biodiversity.
Moving away from work with native species, he worked for a variety of different collections, expanding his animal husbandry knowledge and learning about conservation and reintroduction programmes around the world. It became clear to him that there is a real need to improve the zoo community’s knowledge and management of deer and antelope held in captivity, from husbandry through to genetics and he is particularly proud of having set up the husbandry guidelines for European Elk.
Jono brings twenty-five years of experience of working with a wide range of animals in zoos across the U.K. and is responsible for the health and well-being of the animals as well as the curation of the reserve at Watatunga. You will meet Jono leading tours with Dee or out amongst our animals in the reserve
Conservation Today for Wildlife Tomorrow
Europe investing in rural areas.