The CAMPFIRE Program in Zimbabwe

First For Wildlife

By Charles Jonga and George Pangeti

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Zimbabwe’s Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) is highly regarded in the conservation community. From CAMPFIRE’s inception in the 1980’s, the program has encouraged rural communities on communal lands to conserve local wildlife populations. Prior to the program, Zimbabwe did not have a system where landowners and rural residents could manage the wildlife for their own benefit. Like other African countries, upon independence Zimbabwe inherited a system of State ownership of wildlife. But, in 1975, the Parks and Wildlife Act was passed that gave private landholders the right to manage wildlife for their own benefit. This change in policy facilitated the recovery of wildlife on private lands. In 1982, the legal provisions of the Act were extended to Rural District Councils (RDCs), which was the beginning of the CAMPFIRE program.

The RDCs administer communal areas in Zimbabwe, and have become a mechanism…

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