Rural communities living in the neighbourhoods of protected areas are among the least developed communities in the LDCs. In the global quest for sustainable development and democracy, participation in natural resource management by these communities has become an important component in rural development and biodiversity conservation programmes. The proliferation of CBNRM initiatives in the LDCs, however, has so far not yielded any fundamental reductions in poverty and insecurity in the targeted communities. This has raised questions about the viability of CBNRM as a strategy for articulating the development objectives of local communities. Questions have also been raised about the ideological bases of CBNRM. This dissertation presents an analysis of participation in a CBNRM initiative by the Makuleke community of South Africa. Focus is on the issues of community control and gender in the CBNRM process. Findings by the study show that the preconditions for community-level control have largely been met and the Makuleke CBO structure has been constituted as a representative and legally accountable entity. However, there apparently subsists a view that indigenous rural communities like the Makuleke cannot be fully entrusted with leadership roles in CBNRM. The study also finds that despite the securing of gender rights of access to bases of social power and productive wealth through legislative instruments, some social structures and attitudes that favour male dominance remain entrenched in the Makuleke community. These militate against the strategic participation by women in environmental governance and in the benefits stream emanating from CBNRM. The dissertation argues that the success of the CBNRM initiatives such as the Makuleke’s will depend on a more complex interplay of variables tan solely on the empowerment of the community through strengthening of CBO structures, securing resource rights, entry into the benefits stream and developing of capacities. Success will largely depend on the ability of CBNRM programmes to achieve fundamental reductions in poverty and insecurity. Since there are multiple jurisdictions in CBNRM, LDC states will have to strike a difficult balance or make a critical choice between promoting the interests of Northern agencies in order to secure conditions of production and defending the interests of local communities in order to secure social integration. The responses by LDC states will have significant implications on the success of CBNRM initiatives.