Climbers are to be banished from the world's second largest rock, Australia's 2,800ft Uluru, after its Aboriginal owners decided the sanctity of the 600-million-year-old edifice outweighed its lure for tourists.
It made a decision to close the rock to climbers from October 26, 2019 - 34 years to the day since it was handed back to its traditional owners, the Anangu people, the Northern Territory News reports.
The Uluru-Kata Tjuta national park board asked visitors to understand the new rule as upholding a long-held request of the Anangu - indigenous Australians - who felt that they were "intimidated" into allowing climbers to use the rock for recreational purposes.
"Over the years (traditional owners) Anangu have felt a sense of intimidation as if someone is holding a gun to our heads to keep it open. This decision is for both Anangu and non-Anangu to feel proud about".
"It's about protection through combining two systems, the government and Anangu", said board chairman Sammy Wilson. "We are not stopping tourism, just this activity".
Uluru's land title was handed back to its traditional owners in 1985, but was immediately leased to the Australian federal government to be jointly managed as a national park for 99 years.
The entirety of Uluru is a sacred area and the site where the climb begins is also a sacred men's area. According to the board, only 16 per cent of visitors to the national park climbed Uluru from 2011 to 2015.
Signs at the base of Uluru urge tourists not to climb because of the rock's sacredness in Anangu culture.
The board can also close the climb if it believes people will continue to visit the sacred site without being able to climb.
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