The rate at which the poaching of rhinoceroses has escalated since 2010 poses a threat to the long-term persistence of extant rhinoceros populations. The policy response has primarily called for increased investment in military-style enforcement strategies largely based upon simple economic models of rational crime. However, effective solutions will probably require a context-specific, stakeholder-driven mix of top-down and bottom-up mechanisms grounded in theory that represents human behaviour more realistically. Using a problem-oriented approach we illustrate in theory and practice how community-based strategies that explicitly incorporate local values and institutions are a foundation for combating rhinoceros poaching effectively in specific contexts. A case study from Namibia demonstrates how coupling a locally devised rhinoceros monitoring regime with joint-venture tourism partnerships as a legitimate land use can reconcile individual values represented within a diverse stakeholder group and manifests as both formal and informal community enforcement. We suggest a social learning approach as a means by which international, national and regional governance can recognize and promote solutions that may help empower local communities to implement rhinoceros management strategies that align individual values with the long-term health of rhinoceros populations.