Best of 2016: For 70-year-old herder, never too late to become an environmentalist

Shepherd Gertruida Cloete, 70, spends each day following her livestock as they graze outside of Leliefontein, South Africa. (© Charlie Shoemaker)

Shepherd Gertruida Cloete, 70, spends each day following her livestock as they graze outside of Leliefontein, South Africa. (© Charlie Shoemaker)

Editor’s note: As the end of 2016 approaches, Human Nature is revisiting some of our favorite stories of the year. To support crucial conservation work like this, consider making a donation to Conservation International.  

Most days, Gertruida Cloete rises before dawn, walks three kilometers to tend to her livestock, follows them for hours as they graze and then treks back home. In the dry, punishing landscape of South Africa’s Namaqualand, where Cloete lives, it’s a long day for anyone — let alone a 70-year-old woman.

Climate change impacts such as more frequent droughts are expected to make farming in this area more difficult, forcing herders like Cloete to change their traditional practices. To help farmers adapt to these changes, Conservation South Africa is working with them through initiatives such as the Biodiversity and Red Meat farming cooperative. The cooperative gives farmers a range of incentives to help maintain the condition of the veld (grassland) and the water in their pastures.

See a day in the life of Gertrude Cloete in this post from March.

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Donate to Conservation International to support conservation heroes like Gertruida Cloete.

Sophie Bertazzo is a staff writer for Conservation International. 

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