Local people’s perceptions about protected areas are important determinants of the success of conservation efforts in Southern Africa, as their perceptions affect their attitude and behaviour towards conservation. As a result, the involvement of local communities in transboundary wildlife conservation is now viewed as an integral part of regional development initiatives involving several countries. Building on unique survey data and applying regression analysis, this paper investigates the determinants of the perceptions of local communities around the Great Limpopo Trans-frontier Conservation Area in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Our results show that the perception that management of the park is good positively affects the perceptions of benefits from the park, rules governing the park, and how people perceive wildlife in general. Household expertise in environmental resource extraction positively affects the perception that it is wrong to commit environmental crime. Our results show that, if people perceive the rules of the park in a negative way, then they are less likely to conserve wildlife. Receiving benefits from the park seems to have a positive effect on perceptions of the rules governing the park and wildlife, but not the perception that it is wrong to commit environmental crime. Surprisingly, high levels of corruption positively affect people’s perception of wildlife benefits and that it is wrong to commit environmental crime. There is a lack of evidence of the role of socioeconomic variables in people’s perceptions towards wildlife. However, our data suggest that unobservable contextual factors could explain part of the variation in people’s perceptions. Our results have implications for large-scale collective action, becauseperceptions of wildlife benefits, corruption, environmental crime, park management and rules governing the parks affect people’s ability to self-organize. These variables are interesting because they can be influenced by policy through training and awareness campaigns.
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