To evaluate and improve the involvement of stakeholders in community-based natural resource management, we developed a stakeholder collaboration index. We compared the stakeholders of five Kenyan conservancies by conducting 10 focus group meetings with conservancy management committees and wildlife game scouts. We used the nominal group technique to identify and rank perceptions of the conservancies’ strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, and any threats. The resulting 455 responses were categorized into ecological, institutional or socio-economic themes of ecosystem management. Collaboration index scores ranged from low (0.33) to high (0.95) collaboration, on a scale of 0–1, with a mean of 0.61. Managers and game scouts had varying perceptions of the conservancies but they agreed about major strengths and threats to conservation. The index highlighted shared perspectives between managers and scouts, which could be used as opportunities for increased stakeholder involvement in collaborative management. The stakeholder collaboration index is a potentially useful tool for improving management of environmental conservation programmes.