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Cy Baker’s Uganda Trip

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

We’re delighted to follow Wildlife Artist of the Year 2022 winner, Cy Baker as he explores Uganda with our ground-based conservation team!  

Cy is an extremely talented artist, specialising in biro and oil, and his breadth of ability within his medium knows no bounds. One of the finest examples of this is his winning work, ‘Costa Rican Cloud Forest’. 

Cy Baker, Cy’s wife and Jimmy

Cy was able to spend a day with our lion expert, Jimmy, from our field team in Murchison Falls, National Park and this is how their day went… 

“We spent the morning (another very early start, but worth it in every way) tracking a couple of prides of lions in a way I have never done before. It gave a real insight into how the team work in the field and track the lions.  

The first group of lions we spotted were simply roaming around their territory looking for a last opportunity for a meal. I hadn’t appreciated that the vast majority of successful hunts are done at night, or that there is only a small window of opportunity first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening during daylight, especially in the dry, hot season we’re now in. 

The group (1 fully mature female and 3 sub-adults; 2 females and a male) roamed around, splitting up and coming back together. Whenever they came back together, they would bump heads or make similar greetings and I was struck by the large social element to their lives. 

Pride of Lions and group of cobs

The lions located a large group of Ugandan kobs (a type of antelope); the hunt was on.  

But the kob spotted them quickly, warning each other of the danger and the whole heard seemed to line up watching these powerful, prowling predators. The kob moved towards the lions, so they could be sure to keep them in sight. The lions disdainfully walked alongside them until they spotted an unwary kob sat away from the herd. 

One of the lions started stalking the kob and approaching very slowly. Unfortunately, it was noticed immediately, and the lion gave chase, but it was futile, and the kob escaped quickly. 

Jimmy then found another group (an adult female and 4 sub-adults; 3 females and a male) who had had a successful hunt and were in the middle of eating. 

Lioness eating

There was clear hierarchy in the pride and when we arrived it was time for 2 low ranking females to tuck in. When the smallest female got her chance, she grabbed a leg and ran off with it. The male then gave chase, with renewed interest and almost got it back, but the female decided to climb into a small palm tree so she would be left in peace. It all reminded me so much of children and once again, taught me that there are enormous amounts of personality in these animals. You certainly shouldn’t anthropomorphise, but boy, you underestimate them at your peril!”  

– Cy Baker 

Cy explained his encounters with these wild big cats as ‘nothing short of an exceptional experience’ and ‘massive privilege’. We’re thrilled Cy could share his adventures with us and Jimmy, who was able to share his invaluable knowledge, skills and enthusiasm for conservation. 

Watch our livestream with Cy on Youtube to learn more: (44) Live with Wildlife Artist of the Year 2022 winner, Cy Baker – YouTube

Stay tuned for information on Cy’s Uganda series of sketches, presenting a truly authentic portrayal of Uganda’s wildlife. Cy explains this day, encountering the lions, will be ‘the tent-pole piece for the exhibition’ so we cannot wait to see what he produces! 

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