During the national period, the number and the total extent of protected areas increased slightly from the colonial period (Fig. 12.3). Between the 1960s and the 1980s, more wildlife reserves were established, including Sungai Dusun Wildlife Reserve in 1964, Tanjung Tuan Wildlife Reserve (1972) and Endau-Rompin Pahang Wildlife Reserve (1986); these are located in the states of Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, and Pahang, respectively, and the largest is Endau-Rompin Pahang (40,197 ha). As in the colonial period, the establishment of protected areas during the 1960s and the 1980s was also mainly driven by development of land for large- scale agriculture. However, at this time oil palm played the most crucial role in causing loss of forested areas in peninsular Malaysia compared to rubber and other cash crops (Abdullah and Hezri 2008).
The ex situ approach began to take place in wildlife conservation in the 1970s whereby two wildlife sanctuaries were established, that is, Bukit Pinang and Sidam Kanan in the state of Kedah: both are specifically for conservation of river terrapin. In the following decades, four wildlife sanctuaries were established: Zoo Melaka (1983), Bukit Palong Wildlife Sanctuary (1991), Bota Kanan Wildlife Sanctuary (1993), and Pulai Deer Wildlife Sanctuary (1993). During this period, parts of wildlife reserve areas were also allocated or developed as centers of ex situ conservation programs, particularly for large mammals, such as tapir (Tapirus indicus) and Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) at Sungai Dusun Wildlife Reserve. Other animals include seladang (Bos gaurus) in Jenderak Selatan and elephant (Elephus maximus) in Kuala Gandah, both located at the periphery of Krau Wildlife Reserve, and a deer conservation program at Sungkai Wildlife Reserve. The increase in the number of wildlife sanctuaries during this period was most likely related to the lack of suitable sites for in situ conservation areas. Rubber and oil palm plantations have caused clearance of a large proportion of lowland forests. As a result, many protected areas were relegated to the uneconomical land of remote areas (Aiken 1994) or, alternatively, several small areas were selected for ex situ conservation programs of threatened species. Degazettement and regazettement also occurred for some protected areas during this period. Nevertheless, the most significant was the degazettement of the entire 71,347 ha of Cameron Highlands Wildlife Reserve in 1962, 4 years after it was established in 1958. As it is located in a mountainous area, pressure from large-scale farming and an infrastructure for tourism might be the major factors that caused degazettement.
It took almost 20 years to set up another large tract of forest as a protected area in peninsular Malaysia. This area materialized in 2003 whereby a total of 1,200 ha of Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve was declared as Taman Negara Pulau Pinang (Penang National Park). This national park is currently the largest protected area in peninsular Malaysia, covering both terrestrial and marine ecosystems.