Abstract With the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872, the ideology underpinning ‘wilderness’ as outside and separate from human engagement was institutionalized and globalized. For over 130 years parks have been considered as the bastion of biodiversity conservation. However, recent studies indicate that we are losing species, especially large animals, from many of Africa's parks and reserves. Given the magnitude and frequency of natural and anthropogenic change, preservation of species richness in static single equilibrium habitats as the ultimate goal of conservation is untenable. This review advocates for an ecosystem resilience approach to conservation of biodiversity.