This article describes how a participatory action research project, the Zambezi Valley Advocacy Project, assisted the process of improving the autonomy of communities over wildlife management issues in the Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe. The project was based on the assumption that negligible conservation and development benefits realised from wildlife resources were both a policy and a management problem of the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE). Using a participatory analysis, we found that CAMPFIRE is a resilient programme despite the increase in poaching, unscrupulous hunting safari operators, continued destruction of crops by wildlife, reduced flow of financial benefits to producer communities, and economic decline which Zimbabwe has experienced since around the year 2000. This study demonstrates the value of participatory research, so much so that by the end of the project, stakeholders had already started implementing the findings to the hunting contract system, anti-poaching activities, and direct payment system. This represented a significant start to improving community autonomy over wildlife management. It also provided significant opportunities for both researchers and participants to collaborate and use their collective power to create political will for opening up greater decision-making, ownership wildlife resources, and benefit-sharing options for local communities. The lessons from this study are likely to be applicable to other community-based natural resource management contexts.