Biodiversity conservation has been going through a profound change in philosophy, policies and management approaches in the last thirty years. The traditional top-down approach to nature protection has been widely criticized for failing to include critical social elements in management practices, and is being slowly but surely replaced in many parts of the world by a socially more acceptable approach known as participatory conservation. The new conservation approach recognizes communities living in and around protected areas as key partners in wildlife management. However, the experience so far with the application of participatory conservation in protected area management shows that there are shortcomings associated with this strategy, raising questions about the practicality of the approach. In order to gain a better understanding of the approach and its inadequacies, a questionnaire survey of 377 households was employed in the communities in Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA) and Chitwan National Park (CNP) for a comparative analysis of Nepal's two most popular protected areas managed under different policy frameworks and institutional arrangements. The results have identified major differences between the two protected areas in some key elements of participatory conservation, including the level of community participation, motivation factors for participation, and local attitudes toward protected area policies and authorities.'