1. In Africa the majority of conservation areas sanction some sort of human activities within their borders but few of them are part of community-based conservation schemes. The effectiveness of these state-owned, partially protected areas in conserving mammalian fauna is largely unknown.
2. Large and medium-sized mammal densities in three different sorts of partially protected area were compared to mammal densities in an adjacent national park in western Tanzania by driving 2953 km of strip transects over a 14-month period.
3. In a Game Controlled Area that permitted temporary settlement, cattle grazing and tourist big game hunting, mammal diversity and mammal densities were relatively high. In a Forest Reserve that permitted limited hardwood extraction and resident hunting, most large species were absent. In a third, Open Area that allowed settlement, cattle grazing, firewood collection and beekeeping activities, mammal diversity and densities were again low but some large ungulates still used the area seasonally.
4. The chief factors responsible for lowered mammal densities outside the Park were illegal hunting, especially in close proximity to town, and to a lesser extent, resident hunting quotas that were too high.
5. These data suggest that state-owned conservation areas permitting human activities within their borders cannot be relied upon as a means of conserving large and middle-sized mammals in Africa.
6. Two methods are being employed to ameliorate this problem in Africa: excluding people from conservation areas while upgrading ground protection effort, and initiation of community-based conservation schemes. As yet, however, very few quantitative data are available to evaluate the efficacy of these methods in enhancing mammal populations.