The College was established by an Act of Parliament called “The College of African Wildlife Management Act, 1964”. The Act provided for the creation of the Governing Body responsible for supervising the College. The composition of the original Governing Body was evidently regional in that all the three East African states (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) were represented. They have ever since remained active members of the Governing Body of the College. East African Common Services Organizations (EACSO) and the University of East Africa were also represented. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have also been members since the College’s establishment. Others who have been members of the Governing Body, at different tenures include UNDP/FAO, Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), East African Community (EAC), its membership ceased with the death of the organization in 1977, African Wildlife Leadership Foundation (AWLF) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
Formal training of the African wildlife managers began at the College on 24th June 1963. This was after the Chief Game Wardens and Directors of National Parks from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, along with representatives of ministries responsible for wildlife in these three countries, a representative of the then East African Common Services Organization (EACSO) and a Senior Game Warden from Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) laid down the formal establishment of the College and its course programs. Prior to the establishment of this College most employees of the protected area services had no formal training in wildlife management and the few wildlife biologists had no trained assistants or technicians.
Establishment of the College came after the Arusha Manifesto, signed by the late President Julius K. Nyerere in 1961. The manifesto highlighted, among other conservation commitments, the need for trained manpower to protect and manage Africa’s natural heritage. The College is a pioneer institution in the field of wildlife management training in Africa and has remained the leader in this field for the past 55 years.