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Community-based Conservation: Experiences from Zanzibar

Participatory approaches to conservation and resource management are increasingly being adopted world-wide. They range from minor involvement of local people, to increasingly sophisticated community-owned processes of conservation and resource management. Yet much of the literature associated with these approaches documents the theoretical background at the expense of the many valuable practical lessons learned. This paper provides a practical and reflective account of a community wildlife management programme in Zanzibar, initiated to address the unsustainable hunting of three species of antelope. It describes how working with key stakeholders, mainly rural village hunters, hunters’ associations were formed as a precursor for establishing community-based conservation of the resource. New policy and legislation were piloted through the joint formulation of hunting by-laws with each village. A key lesson of these experiences is that whilst changes in attitude and approaches at a local level can, with the right support, be encouraging, there is a clear need for parallel changes in government attitudes, structures and processes. These changes take time, but will be vital if any community-based resource management initiative is to succeed.

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