Sustainable tourism running throughout
Here at Watatunga, we are passionate about restoring, nurturing and sharing nature’s ecosystems.
Our purpose-built wildlife reserve has been created to embrace the uniqueness of the area, landscape and species, brought to you by our conservation-obsessed team and with principles of sustainable tourism running throughout.
As a passionate supporter of sustainable tourism, we are cultivating an ethos that echoes the very definition of it, which is to “provide authentic tourist experiences that celebrate and conserve heritage and culture, protecting natural environments, wildlife and natural resources when developing and managing tourism activities.” *https://www.thetravelfoundation.org.uk
As part of our sustainability, we keep the stocking density of the reserve in balance with nature – this means that we minimise supplementary feeding with feed that is often heavy in soy products and we keep numbers of animals in line with what the trees, grasses and browsing material in the reserve can support. At times, usually early spring, this may result in a species being off-site to protect the balance and regrowth of the flora within the reserve.
We have recently been recognised as a Cycle Friendly destination and we make efforts to ensure that our retail products are sustainably sourced. Most importantly, we run various breeding programmes for our endangered species, including the Malayan sambar, hog deer, barasingha and the great bustard – a spectacular bird which went extinct in the UK in 1832.
Always striving to be at the forefront of both conservation and sustainable tourism, Watatunga was one of the first wildlife reserves to offer visitors the chance to fully immerse themselves in the experience by viewing the animals via electric buggies that they drive around in convoy, following one of our expert guides. This enables our guests to see our fascinating residents in close proximity and acting naturally in their habitat. The guide will ensure you spot as many sights as possible as well as providing information and stories regarding our animals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does Watatunga primarily work with birds, deer and antelope?
We are in a lucky position to be able to provide these particular species with as natural a habitat as possible in captivity. The deer can hide up their young in the scrubby brambles when they wish to, but also swim in the lake or graze in the open at times too. Likewise, the antelope can self-select their browsing fodder and choose the area of the reserve that best suits their needs. This is unusual with captive ungulate populations, and we are excited about the possibilities that our space affords us. You can read more about how the Watatunga way of interacting with animals differs to others from the Chair of BIAZA’s ungulate sub-group, Ben Matthews, here.
How can I support Watatunga's conservation efforts?
The greatest way you can support us at this stage is in spreading the word about what we do. We opened in 2020 and we are a young business, striving to educate people about some of the world’s most endangered species.e also have an incredible team of volunteers who work with us through the tour season and beyond. If you’d be interested in joining the volunteer team or bringing your work place for a corporate volunteering day, please get in touch via the contact form.
What partnerships are in place at Watatunga?
We work closely with The Great Bustard Group. We are also proud to be partnered with Pensthorpe Natural Park and Pensthorpe members receive a discount on our guided buggy tours.
What is an EEP and is Watatunga part of any?
An EEP is the European Endangered Species Programme. It exists to try and make sure that species that are at risk of extinction in the wild, have a healthy and genetically diverse ‘backup’ population in zoos across Europe.
We are excited to be part of the Sambar and White-Lipped deer EEP, actively breeding these species. We also hold other EEP species, for example a bachelor scimitar-horned oryx, Javan peacock, White-Naped crane and Eastern Mountain bongo. These males are not currently required for breeding and as we have space for them, we can ensure they have as happy and healthy a time as possible until their genetics are required elsewhere.