Many people believe that apex predators such as lions, sharks, wolves, and tigers are planet’s deadliest animals. However, such assumptions are mistaken as not a single predator makes the top-five of the world’s deadliest animals. For example, lions kill about 100 people each year, and sharks cause an even lower number of deaths, estimated to be ten deaths globally. These figures are small when compared to those of the top-five deadliest animals on earth. Some are so small, such as the mosquito, while others appear to be harmless, such as the dog, but collectively, they kill more than a million people each year.
The World's Deadliest Animals
The mosquito is one of the smallest insects, but it kills more people than any other animal on the planet. Mosquitoes kill more than 0.7 million people each year around the world. The human deaths from mosquitoes are caused by infectious diseases such as yellow fever, tularemia, encephalitis, chikungunya, and dengue. The deadliest of the mosquito-borne diseases is malaria which, according to the World Health Organization, killed about 0.438 million people in 2015. The deaths are most prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa where an estimated 92% of the total global malaria deaths are reported.
Humans are their own worst enemies, and according to the report, are the second-deadliest animals on earth. The term for humans killing other humans is “homicide,” and it encompasses manslaughter, euthanasia, and murder. A report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime puts the total number of homicides in the world at 0.46 million in 2010. Africa and the Americas account for over 65% of the global homicides. Females represent the minority of homicide victims and account for about 18% of all homicide victims. Many of the female homicide victims were killed by their male partners, either past or present.
The fear of snakes is almost universal, and there is a scientific term coined for it, “Ophidiophobia.” There is a good reason for human’s inherent fear of snakes, and they are the third-deadliest animals on the planet. Each year, more than 50,000 people are killed by snakes globally, which is twice the number of deaths caused by the third-deadliest animal. Asia accounts for the highest number of deaths from snakes in the world, where at least 15,000 people die each year. The deadliest of snake species are the black mamba and the puff adder. Despite accounting for fewer bites than many other snake species, the black mamba has the highest mortality rate of any snake in the world.
A surprising entrant is an animal often regarded as “man’s best friend,” the dog. Dogs account for the highest number of human deaths of any mammal, excluding humans. An estimated 25,000 people are killed by dogs each year around the world. Rabies, a disease spread through dog bites causes the majority of the deaths. Without vaccination, the fatality rate from the disease is about 100%. Over 17,000 people died globally from rabies in 2015, with most of the deaths being from Asia and Africa. Fatal bites in Europe and North America are a rare occurrence.
Fighting malaria has been the central focus of governments in affected countries. Billions of dollars have been channeled in programs to fight the disease. One of the most successful measures has been mosquito nets. Containing the spread of rabies by dogs is carried out through vaccination of stray dogs, which are the primary vectors of the disease. Euthanizing infected dogs is another measure of containing the number of people who die of rabies each year.