Group photo shoot with Jason Florio, Kartong #ebolafree Gambia, West Africa

Jason Florio gets the shot – Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio


We traveled down to Kartong again this past weekend not only to work more on our sea turtle conservation story, but also to help out two of our best friends in The Gambia, Geri and Maurice – who run a truly peaceful eco lodge, ‘Sandele‘, in Kartong – on a campaign to raise awareness of how the ebola crisis in three other West African countries is adversely effecting tourism, and the socioeconomic balance, in #ebolafree Gambia.

Jason Florio, Helen Jones-Florio, Geri & Maurice Philips – Kartong village, The Gambia, West Africa. Image by Landing Jatta


I met this wonderfully inspiring, indefatigable couple in 1998 on one of my first trips down here, when they were then running a small hotel called Safari Garden. The forthcoming campaign involves the 32 full time staff employed by Sandele, and the numerous family members their wages help to support.

Later in the day, we hung out again with ex-hunter turned sea turtle conservationist, LJ, as he took us to meet a couple of local guys, who continue to hunt, to enable us to get a fully balanced picture of our ongoing turtle conservation story.

Florio & LJ, cycling to Kartong village – image © Helen Jones-Florio (instagram/floriotravels)


Releasing turtles into the Atlantic Ocean, Kartong, Gambia – image © Jason Florio


We’ll be posting more about both stories very soon, so please bear with us.

Thanks, as ever, for stopping by.

The Florios – Helen & Jason

Related posts: The Hunter Turned Sea Turtle Conservationist




The hunter turned conservationist – protecting sea turtles in The Gambia, West Africa

Image © Jason Florio – Kartong, The Republic of the Gambia, West Africa


Over the weekend, we made our way down to Kartong – the last village before the border of the Casamance – Southern Senegal, to stay with old friends, Maurice and Geri, at their eco lodge, Sandele. The main purpose of our visit was to interview LJ – an ex- local bush meat hunter, who had a ‘come to conservation‘ moment earlier this year.

Image © Jason Florio – some of the sea turtles we eventually released into the Atlantic Ocean, at Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa


LJ now volunteers full time to protect the fragile turtle population and helps to sensitize his fellow villages not to slaughter turtles for meat and poach their eggs. It’s a tough task, considering that there is precious food money to be made from the meat of the majestic fully grown reptiles – they can live to be 80+ years! LJ knows… being one of those people who thought little of wiping out mature turtles with a sharp knife, or raiding nests for eggs to sell or make omelets from, for his family.


HJF with one of the turtles we helped to release – image © Jason Florio
Watch your step, Jason! Releasing the turtles (look closely – those tiny black spots are alive), Kartong, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio


We had the honor of releasing 20 Leather Back turtles… an incredible experience, as we watched the tiny reptiles hurtle innately, over the sand, towards the gargantuan Atlantic Ocean. We were awestruck yet fearful… these are ‘lucky’ ones, to have survived the land predators (from hunters, to wild dogs, crabs, birds, and red ants, raiding the pre-hatched eggs), but the baby turtles have many more marine predators awaiting them. Their overall survival rate to maturity is slim.

Image © Jason Florio – Kartong, The Republic of the Gambia, West Africa


LJ stood nearby, with a look of paternal proudness and more than a little trepidation. However, he hopes that in fifteen years time, he will be on the same stretch of beach to protect at least one of the female turtles, from this particular hatching, as she returns inherently to the place of her birth, to lay her eggs deep the sand, before heading right back out to sea once again.

We’ll be following closely the progress of LJ – a truly inspiring and dedicated man you will ever hope to meet – and the turtle conservation project, in Kartong, and surrounding coastal area. So, please do check in again (or you can subscribe to updates – simply add your email address in the left hand column).  And, if you would like to find out more about how to support the conservation of the turtles – this is a volunteer position for LJ, so we know that any help would be much appreciated –  please contact: 

The Florios – Helen & Jason

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Good luck, little turtle, we hope you make it! © Jason Florio

Random photo of the day: Photos Tell Stories Gambian students ‘Home’ photography assignment

As part of the ‘Photos Tell Stories’ 4-day photography workshop, in The Gambia, our young  students  were given an assignment: ‘Home‘.

During the workshop, photographer and tutor, Jason Florio, showed ‘Home‘ work from our contributing international photographers – such as Ben Lowy, Amy Toensing, Wayne Lawrence, Manjari Sharma, and Heloise Bergman – we then asked our students to take the cameras and photograph what means ‘Home‘ to them.

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Image © Muhammed Njie, Fajara, The Gambia

To see more of great ‘Home‘ work from our Gambian students, please click here.

Jason shows the PTS’s students the work of New Zealand photographer, Heloise Bergman ‘‘Tā Moko – Modern Māori Warriors’

We are now working on an exhibition of the students work, to be held here in The Gambia – date to be confirmed. Please subscribe (in the left hand column) if you would like to receive updates.

Thanks s always for stopping by

The Florios – Helen and Jason

Photos Tell Stories tote bags by ‘Jekkah – African inspired clothing‘ – made in The Gambia