Training needs assessments have revealed the need for people-oriented training to increase the job performance of African protected area (PA) managers. The Garoua regional wildlife college for francophone Africa (Cameroon) developed the first long (diploma and certificate) and refresher courses in community conservation for mid-career PA managers and guards from West and Central Africa. Through lectures, case studies and participatory rural appraisal exercises, the courses emphasized the development of skills for tuning principles of people participation to the conservation objectives of PAs. The present study reviews the trainees' evaluations of these courses, to appreciate their relevance and support their further development. Diploma students judged the course as highly relevant because of the acquired analytical skills, whereas certificate students considered them only of medium relevance. The response to short refresher courses varied as a function of the use of cases from either the trainees' professional experience or from the fieldwork location. The reactions of trainees to this learning opportunity show that PA personnel are not ‘attitude-limited’ as often suggested. Their constraints to develop a more people-oriented work style lie largely in the areas of knowledge and skills. These findings point to the need for increased efforts to implement training of PA personnel in community conservation, preferably early in their careers.