Dec 11, 2016 News
She has been described as the Jane Goodall to the Giant river otters. Others call her the real-life Dr. Dolittle. Still, she was simply known as ‘The Otter Lady’.
Diane McTurk, 84, has passed away, leaving the environmentalists and others mourning yesterday.
She was the owner of Karanambu, a 100-square mile former cattle ranch, in North Rupununi, Region Nine.
She was written up in several magazines and has been honored locally by the tourism bodies.
She received recognition two years ago at the Wilderness Explorer’s 20th Anniversary event.
Born in 1932, McTurk is said to be the visionary behind both the Karanambu Trust and the Karanambu Lodge with the North Rupununi her home.
She was born at Karanambu soon after her pioneer father, Tiny McTurk, established a cattle ranch there. Tiny was also a naturalist and Diane learned to appreciate the region’s extraordinary flora and fauna at an early age.
After attending the Wychwood School in Oxford, England, she moved to London to work in the hospitality business for the Savoy Group.
In 1966, Diane returned to Guyana to celebrate the country’s independence. She subsequently became the Press Officer for The Guyana Sugar Producers Association. She moved back to England briefly and worked in corporate public relations before returning to her Rupununi roots in 1976.
Like all the cattle ranches in the area at the time, Karanambu had suffered from a series of misfortunes: epidemics of diseases had decimated the herds, and there were difficulties protecting the cattle from rustlers. As a result, Diane looked for alternatives to make a living. Karanambu was well known for its wildlife and spectacular fishing, and had always been a welcome rest stop for unexpected visitors.
So, in 1983, she opened her home to eco-tourists. Diane also offered refuge to injured or orphaned wildlife. Sadly, the animal that appeared most often was one of the most endangered: the Giant Otter.
By necessity, Diane became a world expert on the care and rehabilitation of this species. She raised over 40 orphaned otter cubs, returning most of them to the wild for a chance at freedom. In 1997, Diane, with the support of the McTurk family, established the Karanambu Trust as a private charity.
Karanambu was once a working cattle ranch and Balata collection station.
With a bird list of over 600 species, Karanambu is a birdwatcher’s paradise. The Lodge also provides viewing opportunities of giant river otters, giant black caiman and giant anteaters.
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