The African continent is known for its great diversity of wild flora and fauna. The diverse ecosystems of the continent are home to wildlife species found nowhere else in the world, including some of the world's deadliest animals. Every year, a significant number of human deaths are attributed to attacks by these animals.
Surprisingly, many people claim that the hippopotamus is the most dangerous animal of Africa. Others suggest that the Nile crocodile or the African buffalo are the creatures truly deserving of this title. However, no one can deny that most human deaths in Africa are caused by two creatures of the Animal Kingdom - the tiny mosquito and the human beings themselves. Every year, humans kill each other in the thousands while mosquitos also claim many human lives in the continent as they act as the bearers of deadly diseases like malaria. However, here we discuss the most dangerous animals of Africa with the exception of humans as they deserve to be enlisted in a separate category of "The Most Dangerous Animals Of The World."
10. African Elephant
African elephants are the most respected animals of the African wilds. These gentle giants are known for their intelligence, power, and social bonding. However, there are occasions when the world's largest living terrestrial species can behave in an unpredictable manner and trample people to death. Older bull elephants and younger males are especially dangerous and might attack even if unprovoked if they are not in the right mood. African elephants have been known to kill people in the past. Attacks by these elephants are often reported from places with a history of elephant poaching or in places where elephant habitat has been degraded, bringing these animals into close contact with humans.
9. African Rhinoceros
The African rhinoceros, like other mega-herbivores, is an extremely powerful animal. The rhino, despite its massive size (only second in size to the elephant), can run or charge at surprising speeds and can even topple a car with their physical strength. The rhinos have poor eyesight but a great sense of smell and often the presence of objects that smell like humans and their belongings could easily irritate a rhino and trigger it to attack the people or their vehicles. Once a rhino attacks, there is little one can do but count their last moments in the world. Thus, visitors are always advised to stay at respectable distances from these animals and not do anything to catch their attention. Rhino mothers with offspring can be highly protective of their young ones and can easily attack anyone or anything which appears to them as a threat to the safety of their offspring. However, despite the dangers posed by these rhinos to humans, there is no doubt that humans are far more dangerous to these animals than they are to humans.
8. African Lion
The apex predator of the African wild, the African lion is one of the most expert predators alive today. These animals can easily overtake large animals such as the cape buffalo, zebras, and even the caiman, and kill them using their excellent predatory skills. Unguarded humans are thus no match to these large and powerful creatures. Every year in Africa, more than 100 human deaths are caused by lions. There have also been a few reported cases of tourists or tour guides being killed by lions during wildlife safaris. However, in most of these cases, carelessness on the part of the tourists or tour companies have been held responsible for such attacks by the lions. One must always remember that although humans are not the natural prey of the African lions, a hungry lion might also not have a second thought before attacking a vulnerable human to satisfy its hunger. So, staying safe and obeying the rules of the jungle are the best things to do.
7. Black Mamba
The black mamba is a highly venomous snake endemic to sub-Saharan Africa. The snake is often considered to be the world’s deadliest snake, sharing the title with the inland taipan of Australia. The snake is long and speedy and has well-developed vision. It is diurnal in nature and is both an ambush and pursuit predator. The snake lives in woodlands, savannah, and rocky slopes within its range. Several factors make the black mamba one of the most dangerous animals of Africa. The snake is capable of striking at a significant range and can deliver a series of bites in rapid succession. The venom of this snake is composed of potent neurotoxins which spread quickly through the bloodstream. The venom triggers a quick onset of symptoms in the victim and in most cases results in a fatal consequence if treatment is not offered immediately. A black mamba produces enough venom in a single bite to kill 10 adult human beings. Thus, in South Africa, locals refer to the black mamba's bite as the "kiss of death.” However, despite all the frightening facts related to the black mamba, the snake generally tries to avoid humans and does not strike unless it feels vulnerable.
6. Great White Shark
Moving from land to sea in Africa, the great white shark is regarded as the most dangerous animal in the coastal waters of the continent. The great white shark is responsible for the majority of the fatal unprovoked shark attacks on humans. These sharks usually do not consider humans as prey and on most occasions, they simply bite a human as a “test-bite” and then leave. This often happens when the water is murky and the shark is unable to correctly identify its natural prey from other moving objects. Usually, the humans manage to escape before the shark comes again to bite. However, if the bite is fatal, it could lead to excessive blood loss and the death of the victim. On rare occasions, great white sharks attack humans to consume them.
5. African Buffalo
The Cape buffalo or the African buffalo is one of the “Big Five” game species of Africa. It is often regarded as the most dangerous animal of Africa although the same claims are made for the hippopotamus and the Nile crocodile. The African buffalo has been reported to gore and kill over 200 people each year in the continent. It is thus often called "the Black Death" or “widowmaker”. The large animal has few predators with the exception of lions and large crocodiles. The buffalos stay in large herds which can be quite intimidating for an approaching predator. Cases of these animals mobbing a predator out of their way are not uncommon. The animals, a favorite of trophy hunters, are known to ambush and attack hunters pursuing them. However, in such cases, the buffalo’s act of self-defense is fully justified.
4. Puff Adder
The puff adder is the most dangerous snake found in Africa. The venomous snake has widespread distribution throughout the continent with the exception of the rainforest and the savannah regions. The venom of the puff adder is cytotoxic in nature and might lead to death if left untreated.The common occurrence of the snake, its potent venom, long fangs, large size, good camouflaging capabilities, and the habit of basking by footpaths makes humans easily susceptible to attacks by the puff adder. These snakes are responsible for the highest number of snakebite fatalities on the continent, far surpassing the number of deaths caused by the bite of the black mamba, the producer of a deadlier venom.
3. Nile Crocodile
Crocodile attacks in Africa are responsible for hundreds of human deaths each year. The Nile crocodile, known for its aggressive nature, is involved in most of these fatal attacks on humans. Since many of these attacks take place in small, rural and remote communities, they go unreported. About one-third to one-half of these crocodile attacks in Africa are fatal in nature. Children are more susceptible than adults due to their smaller size. Researchers have found that the crocodile attacks occur more frequently in the warmer season due to the heightened activity of the crocodiles during this time. Not all crocodiles are aggressive in nature or will hunt humans for food. However, the great fear of crocodiles often leads people to hunt them down. This endangers the survival of the crocodiles.
Although we always tend to label the big cats as the most dangerous creatures of the forest, when it comes to the actual figures, we get quite a shock! In Africa, the hippopotamus is considered to be the most dangerous mammal. Although herbivorous by nature, the hippos are known to kill more humans than any other African land species. The animals are known for their highly territorial and aggressive behavior. The sheer size of these animals (world's third-largest land mammal with males weighing around 3,300 lbs), the sharp teeth, and agility on land as well as water, makes them the most fearsome animals to be encountered. Male hippos fiercely defend their territories while females aggressively guard their babies. These animals can also run at speed of over 20 miles an hour.
Mosquito-borne diseases are a great nuisance in Africa. In 2015, 90% of the worldwide cases of malaria and 92% of deaths resulting from malaria were reported from the WHO African Region. The financial toll of malaria acts as a roadblock to the economic progress of the African nations. An estimated loss of $12 billion USD in Africa’s economic productivity is assigned to these insects. 40% of the government expenditure in the malaria-stricken African nations goes towards disease management. Malaria also paralyzes the economy of the country by keeping millions of adults from completing a full day’s work due to the debilitating symptoms of malaria. It can also cause long-lasting complications like anemia or brain damage. For many Africans, the final outcome is death.
What is the Most Dangerous Animal of Africa?
The most dangerous animals in Africa include the great white shark, the Nile crocodile, the hippopotamus, and the mosquito.
About the Author
Oishimaya is an Indian native, currently residing in Kolkata. She has earned her Ph.D. degree and is presently engaged in full-time freelance writing and editing. She is an avid reader and travel enthusiast and is sensitively aware of her surroundings, both locally and globally. She loves mingling with people of eclectic cultures and also participates in activities concerning wildlife conservation.
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