Rinderpest is a severe viral disease of cattle and wildlife. It was introduced to Africa in the 19th century through colonial imported Asian cattle. It had catastrophic consequences killing as much as 90% of cattle in the decade proceeding its introduction. This paper traces the evolution of ideas and reviews some of the key lessons learnt from the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme which was established to coordinate and promote rinderpest eradication worldwide. The strategy focuses on vaccination and epidemiological surveillance. It has progressed from top-down institutional design to grass-roots empowerment where dialogue has mobilised communities and professionals to meet local and international goals.|It concludes that community-based animal health approaches have made a considerable contribution to the global eradication of rinderpest, combining appropriate technology, community participation, and international support to give programmes a broad-based appeal. The process has resulted in a significant exchange of ideas and an increased understanding of the need for alternative methods to meet a common goal.