About us – Award-Winning Sustainable Tourism in Norfolk
Watatunga is a stunning reserve based in West Norfolk, covering over 170 acres of woodland, grassland, wetland and lakes. This diverse habitat makes it an ideal environment for all of our animals to thrive, which includes over twenty types of deer and antelope and rare bird species. Aiming so that our animals to live as natural lives as possible, they have the space and freedom to roam at their will. Access to the reserve is via guided tour only and must be pre-booked online via our website. We also offer private tours for small groups in our electric buggies or large groups in our safari trailer.
Having recently been voted Best New Tourism Business in the East of England, we are really proud to have been announced winner of the “Best New EcoTourism Destination 2022” award. Watatunga is extremely proud that our work and future plans for conservation and protection of endangered animals have been recognised by an ever-growing number of people and acknowledges our wildlife reserve as a sustainable tourism attraction. To find out more about our conservation work and the animals who call Watatunga home, visit our conservation page.
As well as tours, we also offer Safari Stays, in luxurious self-catering accommodation, including the Stable Cottage or Major’s Lodge. These beautiful lodges both sleep up to eight people and Major’s Lodge is fully accessible. Any holiday booking includes a private tour and use of the electric buggies throughout your stay. Check out our unique holiday options here.
As part of our drive on sustainability, we also provide educational programmes for school children and young people. We understand that to be sustainable, we must involve and educate the younger generations to ensure our conservation efforts continue into the future. To find out more about our education programmes, visit our education page.
Meet Our Team
Meet Our Founder
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.
Animal Consultant, Watatunga.
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, 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.
Accommodation and 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 co-founded Watatunga with her husband Ed in 2020 and currently manages everything to do with the visitor experience on site. From Forest School to safari stays, Anna is committed to making sure that visitors leave Watatunga filled with optimism and having had a fantastic time at the reserve.
Sustainability is of key importance to Anna’s vision for Watatunga, whether that’s sourcing the freshest local produce for catered events or making sure the t- shirts we sell have an ethical supply chain, attention to detail is her forte.
With her two mini-rangers in tow, Anna turns her hand to all aspects of the business but is happiest when planting veg or harvesting apples in the spectacular walled garden of the Stable Cottage, one of the holiday lets onsite.
Alex cannot remember a time she wasn’t fascinated by nature and wildlife. Training as a teacher she worked in the Channel Islands and volunteered at the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust. Moving to South Africa was a dream come true as she spent the majority of her time there guiding in the Kruger National Park and other National reserves such as Hluhluwe/Umfolozi in KwaZulu Natal. The call of Norfolk and her family saw her returning home and she was amazed to discover Watatunga. She joined the team in 2021 and relishes the opportunities to share the amazing and unique stories of the animals and birds in our care. Alex cannot imagine a planet without these rare and endangered species and is determined to help as many people as possible to appreciate, value and conserve them for future generations through the safaris she guides at Watatunga Wildlife Reserve.
Reserve Operations Manager
Molly has always been very passionate about deer & antelope and believes that if people understood how fascinating and complex they are, they would be just as captivated by them as she is. She is a strong advocate of keeping animals in complex environments that mirror their wild habitats, always giving animals a choice.
Molly is the reserve operations manager, responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the animal collection, staff & visitor experiences & implementing future strategic plans for the development of Watatunga.
She has worked in multiple zoological collections with a wide range of different taxonomic species. She is the animal behaviour & training liaison for the BIAZA Mammal Working Group & BIAZA Training Working Group. She has a bachelor’s degree in Zoo Biology and is currently in her last year of studying a master’s degree in Animal Nutrition.
Ranger & Corporate Experience Admin
Nicola is a born and bred country girl, wife and mum to two boys who regularly help out on rounds. She spent her childhood in Yorkshire, rearing lambs and riding horses and is very passionate about animal husbandry, welfare and enrichment.
Nicola has a plethora of knowledge around birds, wildfowl and hoof-stock, and her understanding of animal behaviour and husbandry are at the forefront of everything she embraces. Recently, she has worked in hospitality and is all set to oversee a fabulous experience in the BBQ hut at Watatunga..
Having lived on the estate for many years, Nicola has been in the background of Watatunga from its evolution and has hand-reared a variety of deer over the years, even giving them a paddling pool to splash about in over the hot summer months. Hand rearing a variety of deer and buffalo come second nature to her -we welcome her knowledge and work ethic at Watatunga.
Karen was born and educated in west London, but spent most of her school holidays staying with her grandparents in Sussex which informed her love of nature and wildlife. She has lived in Norfolk for over forty years with her horses and dogs which she walks daily in Thetford Forest. She has two sons and three grandchildren, whom she adores.
Karen retired from being a Secondary School Careers Adviser in 2021, after nearly thirty eight years in the profession. She had a specialist role supporting young people with learning difficulties and disabilities and her proudest moment was being awarded an MBE in 2013, for services to education.
Karen feels privileged to be working at Watatunga. She loves learning about the beautiful, critically endangered animals and birds, and working alongside a team of experts. She gives the warmest of welcomes and is a treasured team member, making sure every guest has the ultimate experience on the reserve.
When Ellen was five years old, she decided that she wanted to live in the African bush. Working at various safari lodges in Malawi and Zambia, Ellen gained a Zambian Guide’s License and delighted in taking guests from all corners of the globe for unforgettable wildlife experiences in some beautiful and wild settings.
Coming back to U.K. to complete a Master’s degree in conservation, with the intention of working abroad again, she fell in love with a Norfolk lad and stayed put instead. After working in membership and community engagement at the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) and the RSPB, the pull of the outdoors and a busy son to occupy led Ellen to qualify as a Forest School Leader.
Ellen cares passionately about facilitating a love for nature in people of all ages and firmly believes “People protect what they love”. She feel that the conservation importance of Watatunga, and the amazing wildlife it showcases, makes us do just that.
Administration and Marketing
Emily has always been passionate about animals and the outdoors– she was a keen horsewoman in her teens and volunteered at a riding school every weekend, completing the bronze Duke of Edinburgh award in high school.
Emily joined the team on a 6-month placement via the Kickstart scheme having struggled to get back into employment after having her son. She has since moved to a full apprenticeship in Business Administration which she is currently undertaking.
Having previously been a residential sales negotiator, she has experience in many fields including retail, sales and admin. It’s likely if you call midweek to change a booking or with an enquiry that you’ll encounter Emily’s cheery character. Emily manages two of our social media platforms and is a keen photographer, taking every opportunity to get out in the reserve and behind a lens.
Ollie joined the team as part of the Kickstart scheme in 2022 and has since proved an invaluable guiding assistant – changing tyres, making coffee, and keeping bustard Dave at a suitable distance from guest’s ankles ever since. Ollie has a passion for wildlife and grew up around animals on a farm in west Norfolk.
Catch Ollie between tours and he’ll keep you rapt on various historical subjects, chief of which being the early and high medieval periods. He’s a keen collector of historical artefacts but he’s also full of knowledge about the animals in our collection and is happy to be helping others experience wildlife at Watatunga, as well as be a part of such an important facet of conservation.
He is a great asset to the team with a very creative brain. He makes an excellent cup of coffee, has a dry sense of humour and will always tell us exactly what he thinks of our latest hair brained scheme.