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‘It will take your breath away’ - Wildlife reserve ‘unique to East Anglia‘ opens

PUBLISHED: 11:17 04 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:03 05 August 2020

Watatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew Waddison

Watatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew Waddison

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A new wildlife reserve that has been described as “unique to East Anglia” has officially opened for its first guided tour.

Watatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew WaddisonWatatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew Waddison

Farmer Edward Pope and the Watatunga team welcomed visitors to the new attraction on Monday, August 3, which was created out of a passion for conservation and endangered species.

The 170-acre west Norfolk site, near the A10 at Watlington, specialises in the conservation of endangered ungulates - mainly deer and antelope - and around 70 different bird species.

Visitors were taken through Covid procedures before a 90 minute tour around the reserve - learning about the animals, their natural habitat and their conservation status.

Andrew Waddison, owner of AW PR, who helps to promote attractions in Norfolk was “thrilled” to be among those invited on the opening.

Watatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew WaddisonWatatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew Waddison

He said: “The landscape is simply stunning, old quarries and lakes with vast swathes of grassland, woodland, scrub - everything that the incredible creatures that now call this part of west Norfolk home could want.

“At an early stop, we were introduced to a terrific great bustard before one of the resident white storks strolled in and stole the show.

“It takes something to take the attention away from a world class bird like a bustard, but this proved that at Watatunga, anything is possible.”

Visitors also saw blesbok, scimitar-horned oryx, Indian hog deer, breeding barn owls and wildfowl.

Watatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew WaddisonWatatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew Waddison

Mr Waddison said: “All of these animals will form breeding programmes so that wild populations can be maintained and, in the case of the oryx returned.”

The Indian hog deer at the reserve will be part of the conservation plan, with the species now classed as endangered in its home range in the Indian sub-Continent.

Mr Waddison added: “The herd at Watatunga will be undergoing DNA tests in order to ensure that the gene pool is as pure as it can be as these deer are known to hybridise with other deer species.

“This isn’t a zoo - far from it - it is 170 acres of habitat and you won’t see everything on one trip - you may only see a pair of antlers appearing in long grass, or the fleeting flash of a white tail disappearing into the ancient woodland.

Watatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew WaddisonWatatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew Waddison

“There are magnificent creatures living a free life in oodles of space and helping to preserve the future of their own species. You will see plenty of them and it will take your breath away.

“A fantastic experience and one that is completely unique to East Anglia.”

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Watatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew WaddisonWatatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew Waddison

Watatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew WaddisonWatatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew Waddison

Watatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew WaddisonWatatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew Waddison

Watatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew WaddisonWatatunga Wildlife Reserve opened for its first tours on Monday, August 3. Picture: Andrew Waddison


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