This is often defined as involvement of all segments of a community in a wildlife conservation activity. It may be defined as a community support programme geared towards mobilising local capacity to become social actor in decision making and observation of activities that are relevant to their livelihood. It is the involvement of individuals or group of individuals who have direct interest in the use and management of a natural resource base.
This could include the local community resources users, developers, extension workers, industries, indigenous and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Functionally, it involves local populations in the design, implementation and evaluation of projects.
Local community participation is expected to lead to stewardship of the resources. Sustainable wildlife conservation must involve the widest possible participation of stakeholders. Stakeholders are therefore all individuals or group of individuals that are directly or indirectly affected by a conservation project or programme including all those that are negatively or positively affected.
Community participation is a process of partnership right from the planning stage through decision-making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the resource base. In fact, it is common knowledge now that no conservation effort can be sustainable without the cooperation of the surrounding communities.
Local participation can be classified into passive and active participation. A successful collaborative approach to wildlife conservation must have the elements of compensation schemes, income generation project, substitution of traditional techniques and management practices, appreciation of local culture, and finally, environmental education programme.
The following are examples of community involvement programmes.
1. Support Zone Development Programme (SZDP), Cross River National Park, Nigeria.
2. Game Harvesting Project in Kedia, Botswana.
3. Luangwa Integrated Rural Development Project (LIRDP) in Zambia.
4. Administrative Management by Design (ADMADE) in Zambia.
5. Communal Area Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) in Zimbabwe.