New ideas about conserving wildlife are emerging to compete with conventional national park policies. But methods of analyzing wildlife conservation problems in Africa are inadequate for the analysis of complex issues of policy. Much of the analysis of conservation policy attempts to be 'apolitical' on issues charged with social conflict. Analyses are too often ahistorical when history can say a great deal about the origins of present-day ecological problems. Further-more, problems are commonly analyzed within narrow discilinary frameworks which predetermine the nature of conclusions and lead to professionally biased proposals. This case study of the Luangwa Valley, Zambia, is used to demonstrate a method which attempts to remedy these weaknesses, In the first part of the article we examine the role of the Luangwa National Parks in the context of the Zambian political economy, and identify social groups which compete for the resources of the national parks. Next we trace the historical origins of present-day ecological changes. These analyses lead toward a model of the Parks and some of their relationships with the national economy. We end with a proposal for communal use of wildlife which attempts to resolve some of the contradictions inherent in current policy.