This paper seeks to contribute to Rwanda's ongoing restructuring of protected area management. The early part of the paper draws on experiences elsewhere in Africa, as well as key contexts in Rwanda, to assert that conservation of national parks may best be served by flexible and inclusive partnerships that seek to integrate conservation activities across different agents and scales. This assertion is then explored more critically through empirical research that investigates the views of potential conservation partners. The findings suggest that attempts to develop partnerships that are built around national parks will face difficulties. Whilst there is a general willingness to be further involved in park management, this is complicated by cleavages in beliefs about how wider participation might be implemented. In particular, it is only international conservation NGOs that currently seem to be comfortable with the national park approach to conservation management: only they see themselves as having the expertise to be decision-making partners and only they would want their role in a partnership to be formalized.