What is Watatunga Wildlife Reserve?

Watatunga is a pioneering conservation site for ungulates – that’s deer and antelope – on 170 acres of West Norfolk meadow, lake and woodland. We provide a natural habitat for over 24 ungulate species, water buffalo, Great Bustard, various duck species as well as many native birds, animal and plants. Protecting the world’s last populations of the rarest deer and antelope is our first mission and primary goal. Sharing the rewards of our work with the public in order to inspire conservationists young and old comes a close second. Come and experience the magic of our magnificent animals on a guided tour or book our self-catering accommodation to see the wonder of Watatunga as the sun sets. 

What does Watatunga mean?

Our name, Watatunga, is a portmanteau of one of our more exotic African antelope, the Sitatunga, and the wonderful village of Watlington, where the reserve is based. The literal meaning in Swahili is ‘we compose’ – we think it’s a great word to roll around as it’s hard to say ‘Watatunga’ with a frown.

How can I visit Watatunga?

At present, we welcome visitors on our guided trailer tours and to our self-catering accommodation which can be booked via pages on this website.

Is Watatunga a zoo?

While we do have zoo status and regular inspections in order to ensure we are meeting the highest standards of animal and visitor welfare, there are no cages or pens for the ungulates and we cannot guarantee which of our species you will see on any particular day. While we work with and respect traditional zoos, we seek to trail-blaze a new visitor experience and ask for your collaboration, feedback and ideas over coming months as we assess what works best.

Is Watatunga wheelchair accessible?

We welcome visitors with disabilities along with helpers and carers. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, our safari trailer which can cater to one wheelchair visitor at a time, is not currently operating.  For the time being, access to the reserve is restricted to those who can safely board and disembark from a buggy without staff assistance.  We apologise for this and hope that we can offer fully accessible tours soon. We have accessible toilets at our reception building. For visitors wishing to stay in our self-catering accommodation, Major’s Lodge is wheelchair accessible and fitted with a wet room.

Can I visit Watatunga without a guided tour?

Not at present unless staying in Major’s Lodge which has access to our bird hide and exclusive use of electric buggies throughout your stay.

Why have you chosen to focus on deer and antelope?

The rare ungulates we have prioritised are among the world’s most forgotten species. While more exotic creatures like tigers, elephants and panda grab the media attention, many of the species we look after at Watatunga are at even greater risk of extinction. Each species plays a part in a greater ecosystem that must be preserved. We hope to shine a light on their stories and, in some cases, work to reintroduce them to the wild.

What conservation work happens at Watatunga?

We have a tiny team, but already Watatunga is breaking new ground in the world of endangered deer and antelope management. We work with zoos and safari parks both nationally and internationally to manage breeding programmes that ensure genetic diversity for critically threatened species such as the scimitar-horned oryx or Malayan sambar.

I’ve booked a guided tour, where do I park and meet my tour?

The entrance to Watatunga Wildlife Reserve is situated just off the A10/A134 Watlington Rd roundabout heading towards Watlington and is shared with the Mick George (previously Frimstone) quarry. The postcode is PE33 0RG but is unreliable in sat-nav. Please use our what3words.com location “contracts.recruited.resources” for an accurate location of the entrance and then follow the signs to reception.

Do I have to pay for car parking?

No, car parking is free.

How can I get to Watatunga via public transport?

The nearest train station is approximately 2 miles away at Watlington.  The N37 Lynx bus service stops at Andel Lodge which is under half a mile from the entrance to Watatunga.  Please note that there is no footpath between Andel Lodge and the entrance to the reserve.

Are dogs allowed at Watatunga?

Unfortunately, we cannot facilitate dogs other than guide dogs.

Conservation Today for Wildlife Tomorrow