Who’s In, Who’s Out? Challenges for Conservation Partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa

The devolution of management rights over wildlife outside protected areas in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa has given rise to collaborative wildlife management, opening an avenue for the formation of partnerships that include various international conservation NGOs. Partnership as a concept is often used to refer to a voluntary process by which partners impartially share functions, rights, and responsibilities for the conservation of a protected area, whether public, private, or communal, as well as its related resources (Borini-Feyerabend and Sandwith, 2003). In wildlife conservation and management, the partnership approach is based on collaboration (Mburu and Birner, 2007), and understanding the challenges experienced by each partnering stakeholder is a prerequisite for conservation success. While partnership is a good concept that can bring many benefits to local stakeholders, there is a need to reflect upon the positions of the communities, the conservancies, and the international NGOs that are supposed to be at the core of such conservation initiatives.