Gorilla trekking is most times the priority and highlight of an African safari. visitors can only trek to have a close encounter with mountain gorillas in Bwindi forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda wile in Rwanda Mountain gorillas are in Volcanoes National Park.
However, trekking to see the mountain gorillas has a certain age limit of 15 years of age and above, it is believed below that age limit they are vulnerable and can easily contract and spread diseases. mountain gorillas share 97% DNA with human being which makes them prone to human diseases like flue and cough, pneumonia and others. Therefore, stake holders like Uganda wild life and Rwanda development board agreed the age limit should strictly be persons above the of 15 years to track mountain gorillas.
Mountain gorillas move further and live in the dense thick forest which may be difficult for the person below 15 years to trek and follow trails of the mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas usually move further in search of food and most times it requires trekking for long in the steep and dense thick forest looking for them. To minimize all this negativity the respective authorities decided to put a restricted age limit.
Another reason for this age limit is because mountain gorillas are wild and can charge any time, most times below the age of 15 may not understand or remember the guidelines and hence run away letting the gorillas attacking them. One more is the below the age limit, kids are playful and may distract the mountain gorillas causing aggressiveness.
Tour operators usually ask for passport details and date of birth to determine if one is eligible to trek mountain gorillas. In case one acquires a permit under false pretense, on the very day of tracking will still be questioned and asked the passport details to check if it matches the person going to track. This is usually done early in the morning during briefing before going foe gorilla tracking. However, there are circumstances under which 15-year-old can trek, if there is prior special arrangement with the park authorities or if on has just celebrated his/her birth date with in the tracking period.
Lastly Gorilla trekking is not 100% safe because mountain gorillas are wild in nature, they can easily change mood due to encroaching in their environment for example if one uses flash photography, loud noise and strange scents from food and smoke, mountain gorillas feel fearful and strange and the only option is to fight back. It is believed persons under 15 years and above are mature and organized to adhere to the rules and regulations and easily assist themselves in case of such scenarios.